Cat Trees – Did the Earth Move for you TOO?

Greetings and Salutations;

Just to talk about something more positive than the debacle that is the political world in America these days, I have decided to offer a suggestion on how to make a good thing, even better.

A popular product for folks that are Guardians of Companion Animals is the “Cat Tree”. These range from a fairly simple base, with one or two scratching posts attached to it, to tall,and complicated structures.

 

They are almost ALL built of platforms of press-wood, and verticals of 4″ diameter, very heavy,  cardboard tubes. usually the tubes have plastic inserts at the ends, with threaded fittings, which allows the structure to screw together easily and without the need for many tools.

 

I have ALSO found that many of these inserts are held in place with nothing more than a few staples through the tube wall into the plastic. This is, simply, not good enough. It barely works for the small units, and leaves the larger units a swaying and wobbly disaster in the making.   The cats, as they climb and jump around on these structures, will wiggle the staples loose, causing early failure of the uprights.

Luckily, both for the security of the cats, and to prolong the life of the investment it takes to GET one of these units, there is a simple and inexpensive  way to re-enforce the uprights and make it a far better unit. Here is what I do….

I get a box of #6 by 1″ long coarse thread drywall screws, and a #2 Phillips Head bit for the drill.

For each insert, I use a hammer to carefully tap the insert down about 1/8th inch into the tube. This leaves a nice shoulder to anchor the upright in place. I recommend that if one does not have experience as a blacksmith, perhaps it would be best NOT to do this.

I move on, to drive at least four screws in to each insert, spacing them evenly around the outside of the tube. This is not difficult, although it does take a little time. Also, of course, one should NOT be ham-fisted in running the screws in. Too fast and they simply strip out the plastic, and remain loose! I found that by letting go of the trigger when the screw bites into the plastic works great. As the drill coasts to a halt, it drives the screw just the right amount into the insert.

When I am finished, I have a far less wobbly stand, and I am fairly sure that a 15 lb cat jumping onto it is NOT going to destroy it! I do not know if the cats care that much, but it makes ME happier!

God Help Us All!

Bee Man Dave

Posted in General, Improving Life | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Declawing Cats, Part 2

Greetings and Salutations.

I ran across this post to FaceBook  a little while ago, and wanted to add it to the topics available.   It is not comfortable…or easy to look at…but it should not be, and it is important

 

 

Andrea Ward
May 7 at 11:09pm

I took two kitties to Dr. Hammerele at The Pet Doctor today in O’Fallon to have their poor declawed feet examined. The first cat (where both paws are in the radiograph) has tendons so severely contracted, her toes have curled over. No wonder she is obese – it hurts so badly to walk! The next photos show bone fragments in most of her toes. This is like if we had a piece of glass in our shoe and it stabbed us every time we walked. Both kitties have surgery scheduled and are on pain medication and anti-inflammatory meds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Declawing does not save cats’ lives – it only makes their lives painful! Declawing does not keep cats in homes – one of the cats I took today is from a rescue!

Also, good to note that neither of these cats had any outward signs of pain or typical issues. No biting or aggression or litter box aversion. One cat is just painfully shy and withdrawn while the other is morbidly obese. Pass this along and spread the word about The Paw Project.

What Ms. Ward says is terribly accurate. Touching on her comment about declawing keeping the cat in the home….Over the past week or two, I have seen at least a dozen postings from several rescue groups in the area, where, an older cat has been dumped at the pound, after being declawed. This Evil causes me to see red, and I fear I am going to have to go do some Tai Chi after putting this entry up, to regain some calm and balance.

Her point about cats being spookily good at hiding disability is right on the nose too. I have had cats in the past that seemed healthy and hale, and were running around like kittens, then, either died in their sleep that night, or simply keeled over dead. I have had cats that had painful joints, and hid it from me for weeks to months. They are predators, after all, and in the world where they are not protected, any sign of weakness or disability is license for them to become the prey.

In the Bible, which contains much wisdom about ethical behavior, in Mark 25:40 it is written “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” If you are considering having a cat declawed, then think long and hard on doing this…and read the quoted verse a number of times!

Here, by the by, is an excellent study that looked at the operation, and evaluated it. Read it through… http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1098612X17705044?journalCode=jfma

As I have mentioned before, there are several viable alternatives to deal with scratching.

  • Do not have a cat as a companion animal. Get a dog. Get a fish. Get a plush toy. Just do not get a cat.
  • Trimming the tips off the cat’s nails will eliminate many of the problems. It is easy to do, and painless.
  • Take your cat to a professional groomer and have nail covers applied. It is possible to do it yourself, but initially, let the pro do it. They will likely have better product at hand, and will be less likely to screw up this somewhat fiddly job.

 

God Help Us All!

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Ethics, Heath, Humanity, Nuttiness, Questionable decisions, Ruminations, Snake Oil | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Why not declaw cats?

Greetings and Salutations.

The following post came to my attention today, and if there is ANY question in your mind as to what the answer to the question in the title is…Read the article, and look at the pictures…then tell me you would be OK with this still being legal.

Blue Boots.

In 2013 Blue Boots was surrendered for behavioral issues including litter box avoidance and extreme aggression. Fortunately, someone stepped in and Blue Boots went to a Specialty Purebred CAT Rescue foster. The vet through SPCR found the cause that explained everything, though most people would not have connected the dots, as Blue Boots’ original owner did not. See, years earlier, Blue Boots had undergone a 4-paw declaw procedure. It’s quite routine and widely accepted in the US and even vehemently defended. What you see in these photos are the deformed claws that were growing WITHIN and THROUGH Blue Boots’ paw pads.


In one study of declawed cats in a particular shelter, one vet found that 66% had left over P3 fragments from the declaw being performed improperly. 33% of them had more than 5 fragments. Of those with fragments, 45% had at least one fragment larger than 5 mm. 28% had a 100% fully BOTCHED declaw procedure, meaning they had bone fragments larger than 5 mm left in each declawed toe.

In the case of Blue Boots, he was 100% botched, meaning those bone fragments left behind in each toe also included a part of each nail bed. Over the space of time after his declaw, the ingrown claws caused constant pain and resulted in his litter box issues and his aggression. Again, his owners weren’t able to connected the behavior with the cause and he would have been killed.

If an individual MUST have a declawed cat, either due to the potential health risks of a possible scratch or due to the rules of their living arrangement, please consider adopting an adult feline from a rescue or shelter that has already been declawed. If a child colors on a wall, you do not cut off their fingers. You teach them not to. The same applies to kittens and training them to use an appropriate scratching surface. There are so many alternatives and humane solutions. This is not merely my opinion, but a truth based upon the research of countless veterinary professionals, proven statistics and studies done throughout the world. Declawing is now banned in 28 countries.

Carla Lynch


While I agree with most of the article,  I take a firmer stand on declawing.   There is NO reason to declaw a cat.   It is an abusive and barbaric custom that has no place in today’s society.    I have also found,  from some research,  that too many Vets push this procedure for cats because it is a high profit option, requiring almost no effort on their part,  and allowing them to charge a large fee.

If the issues mentioned above are a factor,  I suggest one of these courses of action:

  • Do not get a cat.   Get a dog.   Get a large, stuffed,  plush toy.   Cats are not accessories to one’s life, they are members of the family, and so to treat them as anything else is simply wrong.
  • Get a set of nail clippers and learn to snip the sharp tips of the claws off.   This eliminates the issues of a cat scratching a person or damaging the surroundings.
  • Make sure that the cat has plenty of scratching posts and boxes to do the deed on.
  • Take the cat to the groomer’s and get caps put on the claws.   It is possible to do this oneself,  but,  it takes some practice and,  is really something that is worth letting the professionals do.

I hope,  if you have read this far,  that you will contact your state government  and your Federal representatives to push them to implement legislation that will make this terrible act illegal in the entire country.

Posted in Ethics, General, Humanity, Nuttiness | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mass Killings – How can we prevent them?

Greetings and Salutations;

The recent uptick in violence in America, some of which is real, and some of which is amplified because of the gluttonous need for a story by the several, 24/7 News Networks, has grabbed my attention. It is a terrible result of the changes in society over the past couple of decades. In this article, I am going to look at what we, as a society, could do to short-circuit these mass killings. This is hardly comprehensive, and I welcome useful insights into areas I have missed, of course!

I have mentioned, in other posts about mass shootings and such, that a common factor in all of them is that the killer who does this evil thing has left a trail of “Red Flags” behind that show he/she is an increasing danger to themselves or society. Here are a few of the Flags I have seen, in no particular order.

 

  1. The person has shown an increasing interest in weapons, usually of “assault-style” guns, and has made comments about their ability to inflict large amounts of damage in the shortest time.
  2. They show an increasing isolation from society. Either they are bullied, and so being “pushed away” by society, or, simply are developing a dislike for others, they become isolated. This, I believe, makes it easier for them to move to actual violence, as it enables them to turn other humans into sub-human enemies…which are OK to kill or hurt.
  3. They show an increasing interest in violence as a solution for problems. I am sure we all know or have known, at least one person whose world is so focused on violent video games that they seem to like them WAY too much, and enjoy the destruction of them more than is comfortable.
  4. Their parents are often too disconnected to them. For whatever reason, the parents are “too busy” to be an integral part of the person’s life, or, are not interested in teaching them good values. They often are so disconnected they are wearing blinders and ignoring the person’s behavior.
  5. In some cases, they are living in a very violent, abusive household, so, not only have been the target of violence there, but, have been programmed from birth that violence is the way ALL issues are resolved.
  6. They start to show more and more hatred for a given group of people. Be it cheerleaders and jocks, who they see as being more popular than they are, to people of color because they believe these people to be an enemy that is going to destroy their lifestyle, to a general anger because they feel invisible and a failure, and so believe that everyone else is more important in the world’s eyes, or more successful, these negative feelings and attitudes take root and grow, pushing a person to Evil.
  7. They start making comments on Social Media (these days), talking about their feelings and desires.
  8. They will often join with extremest groups, like Militias, the KKK or other white supremist groups, or fanatically religious groups.

How do we address these issues? That can be a difficult thing to do, alas, as people are complicated and since the Constitution rightly makes it difficult to deprive citizens of freedom and such, that adds a secondary barrier to changes. That having been said, I suggest some of the following actions.

Do not simply dismiss their speech as “blowing off steam”, or “just being a kid”. That may have been true, 50 years ago, but, these days, as we have seen too many times, what used to be venting to relieve pressure and stay on a more positive path, has become a way to feed the anger and stoke it up to the point that action happens. This is especially true if the shooter has joined with a group that supports a twisted agenda of violence and death for those who are different from them.

Intervention can help. Just being a positive force in a person’s life can do some good. However, that DOES mean that we will need to find a way to confront and disagree with their radical views without it being a personal attack. I have talked with many supporters of the current administration, and, while I do not think that all of them are dangers to themselves or others, it can be VERY challenging to present them with facts and discuss their views without being called names and insulted in a manner more suited to the elementary school playground than a discussion between adults.

Speaking of Intervention, I think we should start pressuring our Representatives to change how Society deals with mental health. Reagan, with his massive undercutting of the Mental Health Care system in America did no favors to the country. Subsequent administrations have continued that sad process, making mental health care even more difficult and challenging. I am not one of those folks that dismiss the actions of a mass shooter as being the acts of a person who is mentally ill. Classical mental illnesses – Clinical Depression, Schizophrenia, etc, do not tend to generate the sort of madness that creates mass shooters. I do believe, though, that anyone who engages in this Evil Act, is in a very bad place, and would benefit from some therapy. If we had easier, less expensive, access to therapists that could help these folks work through the Anger and Fear issues that have driven them to the point of picking up a weapon, I am quite sure that many mass shootings would be nipped in the bud. Having these resources available for help and evaluation would also make interventions a far more positive event.

Another issue is the response of the Law Enforcement Community. Quite rightly, I suppose, they are useless to notify if one is concerned about the path a shooter is on. They, at best, will have a short interview with the person, and, in most cases will say “We cannot do anything until a crime has been committed”. Then, of course, when there is an active shooter situation, they are glad to go in with guns blazing! This might not be an issue that should be handled by local LEOs, but rather by the FBI. In that case, I would like to see changes instituted to ensure that reports of worrisome behavior get sent upstream to the Feds in a timely fashion. As an example of what I am talking about, I am going to touch on the young man who killed too many students at Parkland’s High School. Already, it has come to light that the local police had reports of anti-social behavior and many signs that he was becoming increasingly violent, starting at least 5 years ago. Yet, because “no crime was committed”, nothing was done.

Dealing with these issues is a challenging situation, as we have to balance the protections of the First Amendment, against the need to keep people who are on the path of Violence from successfully committing mass murder. For example, the POOO* has just come out and said that he supports the idea of the cops going in, and confiscating the guns of anyone who shows signs of being a mass shooter, leaving the whole thing of “Due Process” for later. Not even a majority of his most fanatical followers think THIS is a good idea… What I would like to see is enough resources allocated, so that when a person is reported as being a danger to himself or others, a judge can evaluate the information, and decide if an investigation of the person’s social network postings, and police records should be done. Once the investigation is ordered and completed, the judge looks at the results of that investigation, and decides that further action is necessary, If it seems that this person presents a credible threat, it would be appropriate for the judge to order a psyche hold/evaluation and a temporary removal of weapons from the person. During that psyche hold, a trained psychiatrist should interview the subject, and, determine if therapy or other treatment is necessary. This examination by a trained professional needs to be more than a half hour visit, and some paper shuffling, too! It should involve several, lengthy sessions, and some serious talk during the sessions. At the end of the hold period, a judge should take the recommendations of the psychiatrist, and other evidence and determine the next step. Either the person should be released, and their weapons returned in due time, or, they should be run through the system and set up for mandatory therapy for a period of time, probably determined by their progress as evaluated by an objective board. While the person should, likely, have their freedom, subject to making their appointments, during that time, they should either not be allowed weapons, or, only under supervised and limited settings (say, at a gun range).

One of the issues I struggle with while writing this is the idea of “freedom”. How “Free” are we in America, and, by implementing a change like this, are we having freedom taken away? My general answer is…”well, yes and no”. The fact is that “freedom” does not mean life unfettered by rules. We, as a society, have millions of laws that limit our behavior. We have limits on how fast we can drive on public streets, and if we break those limits, we are punished. We have laws about our responsibilities and rights as landlords and penalties if those laws are broken; We have laws dealing with selling foods to other citizens; we have laws that limit how we can interact with each other – with violence or theft being punished quite strongly. While it might be possible for the above suggestions to be perverted and turned into a tool of oppression, it is not built into them to be that… I believe that with sufficient oversight, the perversion of the goals of such laws could be blocked.

That having been said, I believe there are other things that Society can do to help deal with these issues. For example, an intervention does not have to go as far as involving Law enforcement, as with the above example (which is the most extreme case). It could be as simple as an increased number of therapists in schools, whose job is to interact with students that are acting out, or showing other negative signs in their lives. These therapists could evaluate the stresses in the student’s life that are causing these issues, and, perhaps find ways to help the student deal with them. If it is a result of abuse at home, or in the school, there are appropriate ways to handle that and make it stop. Today, alas, Child Protective Services tends to be so overwhelmed and under-funded, it is nearly impossible to provide the level of service needed to deal with violence in the home. Schools have shown a poor track record of adequately dealing with bullying and hate speech by other students, leaving the targets of this evil feeling very unsupported, and very vulnerable. In both cases, changing funding levels and policies would make a huge difference. If it is a matter of anger management issues, perhaps a series of counseling sessions in school would help the students build the tools to deal with the issue.

Another thing that Society could support is having the schools teach tolerance for others, and critical thinking skills. I am NOT advocating religious instruction in schools, as I am in full agreement with the Constitution here, that the government must not allow support of any religion over any other one. However, by showing students the realities of the lives of others, it can help them to be more tolerant and make it more difficult for them to treat them as sub-human, or enemies.

Some years ago, there was a social experiments called “The Third Wave”

                                         http://www.thewavehome.com/faq.htm
Now, while this proved to be a kind of scary moment in education for several reasons, it was valuable in that it demonstrated to all the students, in a very clear way, the dangers of discrimination, and how necessary it is to be alert to it, and combat it when it rears its ugly head. It also demonstrated how thin the veneer of Civilization is and that we must, as part of our evolution of society, work to thicken that to a point that it is far more difficult to rip away. Would participating in such an experiment mean that the possible mass shooter would see the error of their ways, and turn from violence? I do not know…as people are complicated. However, it likely would rattle the cages of those who are abusing others, and perhaps ensure that they would change their ways, and that could well remove a stresser that pushes a shooter to action.

Alas, unhappily, the greatest burden and responsibility for these mass shooters falls, in my opinion, on the shoulders of the parents. Over the decades since the social revolution of the 1960s, I have seen an increasingly “Hands Off” attitude by parents. As I have said elsewhere, too many parents seem to want to be their kid’s “Best Buddy” and want them to be the same to the parent. They do not want to be the bad guy who says “no” to the kid, as they take the resulting “I hate you” response personally. Kids, when they are born, are like an empty vessel as regards their rules for life. All they have are the basic, instinctive rules required to survive from day to day. If a parent does not take the time and effort necessary to fill that vessel with good rules for life, including such things as respect for other people, including their elders, tolerance of differing views, a willingness to debate in a rational and less emotional fashion, an understanding that they do not know everything, but, that education is important, and makes their life better, and the idea that discussion is always best, and violence should be the absolute, last resort for dealing with a problem, then, that vessel WILL be filled by rules from other sources. Think about the media these days…Look at the video games available to kids of all ages. Look at the movies that they are exposed to. Sadly, look at the example that the Administration presents. These sources are, to a greater extent, filled with violence, hate, misogyny, racism, and a plethora of other pretty terrible ways to deal with society. In “Grand Theft, Auto” for example, one gets point for running down and killing game characters that are prostitutes. That, along with the whole concept of stealing cars and treating the authorities as the enemy.

This is a complicated issue, of course, and I am sure there are other issues and facets of it that I have not touched on. However, unless we address these basic issues with society, we will continue to see these explosions of violence and death. I have, in this article, focused more on youth, being involved in school and church shootings, and have not looked at the issue of ideologically motivated shootings, or, like the guy in Las Vegas a few months ago, who apparently got into such a dark place that he believed that suicide was the only answer, and he wanted to take a large honor guard with him. This is a whole other topic… However, to a certain extent, many of the Red Flags I listed at the start of this article apply to these mass killings too.

* POOO stands for “Person Occupying the Oval Office”…

God Help Us All

Bee Man Dave

 

=-=-=-=-=
Powered by Blogilo

Posted in Ethics, General Thoughts, Humanity, Nuttiness, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on Gun Violence In America

Greetings and Salutations;
This thought was generated by a FB article, about the Parkland shooting. Of course this is the topic of focus just now, as it seems to have generated a LOT of discussion. This reference was posted in the thread, and seemed to get a lot of agreement.

I agree with the fact that the article, as far as it goes, has merit. However, as many such articles do, it ignores the human element. While I agree that classical mental illness is not a cause for mass shootings, I maintain that the people that fall into this madness have a history that has warped their minds to the point where this action seems to be the best alternative.

For example, bullying; After enough bullying, a person may get to a point that they choose violence as an answer. Sometimes, that violence is expressed as suicide or self-harm. Sometimes, it is expressed by showing up at school, and shooting folks.

Then, there is the Evil of Racism and White Supremacy. People who have years of indoctrination in this twisted idea tend to both denigrate others as being “not human”, and, have a great fear that these “Animals” are taking over and destroying their world. I have come to the conclusion that some of this fear is exacerbated by the fact that the Supremacist fears that the people of color will treat HIM as he has treated them in the past. This same issue often drives religious fanatics and other groups who are intolerant of differences, and fearful that their reality will change.

A common factor with all these people is that, as they get closer and closer to actual violence, they start leaving red flags, warning of their coming actions scattered all over the place. Very often, these warnings are ignored by the friends and family around them. There are many reasons for this, ranging from apathy, to a delusion that “he is not really like that”, to “I don’t want to get involved” this allows the violence to fester until it erupts.

I suggest that, if some things were changed in Society, we would see a significant change in the frequency of these shootings.
I would like to see significant changes in the Mental Health Care system in America. The erosion of this service started with Reagan, who stated defunding the programs. I would like to see the system rebuilt, the number of therapists increased, and facilities for long-term care re-created. I would also like to see a large increase in the accessibility of such health care. services,

As of right now, the only way for a person to get long-term help, is for it to become a criminal matter. I would like to see this change, so that it remains a civil matter.
I would like to see society as a whole become more willing to intervene. When we see a person planting red flags, we should be willing to take action to warn the system that there is trouble here. As a part of that, per #1, we need to have a a point where dangerous behavior can be reported and dealt with.

As the Parkland shooting has demonstrated, the authorities need to be quite a bit better at responding to reports of troubled individuals. The reports coming now now indicate that there had been increasingly worrisome reports over an 8 year period, yet nothing had been done.

the previous points are what Society as whole could do. However, there is more there that will help. Within the family, I wish parents would do a better job of teaching tolerance, patience and respect for all life. However, the best that Society can do is to change the school system a bit. this change would add classes teaching these values.

One of my issues with today’s society is that too many parents want to be their child’s “Buddy”…their best friend.   So,  they not only walk away from being the “Bad Guy” who has to tell the kid “no”,  or force them to be disciplined,  but,   they often say that they do not want to inflict their values on their kids…so they are going to let them make up their OWN minds,  when they grow up.   My problem with this approach is that children are like a dry sponge when they are born.   They have NO rules for life,  except those instinctive ones that hopefully will help them survive to be adults.    It is the parent’s job to give that sponge values to absorb and become part of that child’s basic rules for living.    So,  as I mentioned before,  parents should teach their kids about ethics,  respect for others,  polite behavior,  tolerance and to abhor violence as an answer to problems.   IF the parents do not do this…that sponge will absorb values on its own.   Where will those values come from?   The media – Movies,   Television,  Video games and the like.    One of the common themes in all these sources is that violence is a great way to deal with a situation,  and,  life is cheap.   So,  urging parents to really look at the lessons they are teaching their children,  and reminding them that kids learn more from our actions than our words,  would be a helpful thing in this world.

I realize this is a skeleton of a plan, and likely has problems, but, it is a starting point.

God Help Us All

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Ethics, Family, Humanity, Nuttiness, Politics, Ruminations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

December 7, 2017

Greetings and Salutations;

Today is Pearl Harbor Day.
It is not a holiday for Celebration,  as was the Thanksgiving holdiay just a few days ago.   However,  it is a holiday that is at least as Important as Thanksgiving.   It gives us an opportunity to meditate on the human condition,  and to look at where we are at,  as a society.
 .
This evening,   Lisa and I went to see Allegiance, the Musical.   It is a memory of the events of World War 2,  where 120,000   Japanaese Americans,   many of whom had been born and raised here,  were swept up,  allowed only to take what they could carry,  and moved by train like cattle to internment camps in inhospitable parts of the country.  There,  they were treated like enemies,  denied basic human comforts,  and expected to thank America for giving them a safe place to live during the war.   In spite of this,  a larger number of the young men enlisted in the Army,  and particiapted in some of the deadliest missions of the war.  Many of them died.    When they were arrested and taken away,  these citizens lost millions of dollars of property and assets.   What did they get when they were finally released?   $25 and a bus ticket.
 .
The only real disappointment I had with the showing was that in this large theatre,  there were only 14 peaple in the seats.   It is a crying shame that there was so little interest in this movie,  as it is a strong,  well done,  examination of the dangers of prejudice and unbridled fear.    After the Credits,  there was an extensive discussion by George Takei  and others involved in the production,   discussing the musical and how it relates to today’s world.   It, too,  made some excellent points,  and was worth every second of viewing time.
 .
I hope that next year,  on this date,  YOU will take a few hours out of your busy life.   Get tickets to the showing of this film.  Watch it and think about it,  and with luck take some friends along to watch it with you.   Afterwards,  go out for a late dinner and talk about the film   Learn something and use that knowledge to become a more spiritually aware and better person.]
 .
Why should we care about this?   We are seeing the same rumblings happening today,  70+ years later.   The current administration has such a hate for people who are not WASPs,  that they have proposed doing just the same thing to Muslims.    ICE  is already doing this to long-time residents…ripping them away from their families,  and improsoning them in For-Profit failities,  not because they are dangerous criminals,  but because they have broken Administrative laws.   These people are not the enemy,  rather adding a great deal to the quality of America.  Rather than destroying their lives,  perhaps we should honor the memory of those thousands of soldiers who died at Pearl Harbor and other Theatres of war – fighting for the freedoms defined by the Constitution –  and create an easier path to citizenship for not only them,  but ALL good people who want to come to America.   God knows why ANYONE would want to be a part of this society now,  alas,  as we are on a very dark path right now.
 .
RESIST!
 .
PERSIST!
 .
God help us all
 .
Bee Man Dave
 .

=-=-=-=-=
Powered by Blogilo

Posted in Ethics, General, Humanity, Nuttiness, Politics, Ruminations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Annual Whine about names

Greetings and Salutations;
Well,   Thanksgiving is coming up on us like a turkey-shaped train!   This should be a pleasant time of year for us…with good feelings and thankfulness that we have made it through the challenges of the year,  are still alive and have some provisions for the Winter.
Alas,  this is an ideal that is harder to achieve every year.   However,  delving into that topic is perhaps more appropriate for a different time.    No.   Right now,   I want to mock the annual whines that show up at this time of year from the people who are so self-centered and intolerant that they cannot stand for ANYONE to have a tradition or thought that differs from their reality.    In this specific case,   I was presented with THIS image on Social Media  today:
This is so bloody silly it boggles the mind that it is still showing up. When I saw it,  my first reaction was this:   What world does this poor soul live in? I have folks that, when they are talking about the Pagan Celebration Saturnalia, refer to it as Christmas. I have had people who are talking about the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s period say “Happy Holidays”.
Really…how many times in our lives has ANYONE said to us “Oh, no, you cannot say that…you have to say “Happy Holidays”?”   I suggest that, unless you are dealing with a governmentally funded organization,  you have NEVER heard it,  nor will you ever hear it.
I suggest that life would be much better if we simply enjoy the positive aspects of these special days, do something nice for someone else, and not decide to be insulted because someone else may call the day something DIFFERENT from what YOU call it.
I realize that in the hidebound, limited reality that too many Christians In Name Only live in,  this is blasphemy.  However,  We ALL need to remember, at this time of year, that we are a very diverse country,  with more traditions than we can shake a stick at.   That is why our Founding Fathers  included in the Constitution,  the “Establishment Clause”, that ensures that the government shall never give one religious tradition precedence over another.    These days, alas,  with the flood of religious fanatics that seem to be trying to take positions of power,   that clause is being stretched to the breaking point.
If we all want a better America…to “Make America Great Again”…we each need to remember that every citizen has the right to believe as they choose.   We may not agree with those beliefs,  but,  we should,  because of the Constitution,  respect their right to believe this.  Just because someone prefers to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”  is no reason to whine that they need to be expelled from the Country!   I am reminded of the old saying “Be careful what you pray for…you might get it”.    Think for a moment when disrespecting others and remember that it is quite possible that there are a LOT of people who think YOU are wrong..and should be deported.
Happy Holidays!
Merry Christmas!
Joyous Saturnalia!
God help us all!
Bee Man Dave

=-=-=-=-=
Powered by Blogilo

Posted in Ethics, General, Humanity, Nuttiness, Political rants | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Art for Art’s Sake (and I am not talking about Garfunkel, here…)

Greetings and Salutations;
Just as a diversion from the ugliness of the day,   I want to tell y’all a short story that is at least 40 years in the making.
.
.
When I was in my 20s and 30s,   one of the pleasant activities I engaged in was to spend a day going through flea markets and Antiques shops.   I really enjoyed finding some hole in the wall that was a bit off the beaten path.   THOSE were the places where I would meet the most eccentric, unique people,  and find some amazing,  buried treasures.   I ended up getting some fine tools for nearly nothing,  and exchanging some amusing stories with folks on these expeditions.

Wooden Bow Saw

On one of these outings,  I ran across one of the stranger things I have seen.   Hanging on the back wall of a little shop (as usual, packed to the gills with a variety of oddities),  was a very nice Bow Saw.    That was good,  as I needed a bow saw,  to deal with a bunch of branch trimming around the homestead.   However,   someone had used this saw as the  frame for a piece of woven art.   Now,  at the time,  that was just an annoyance to me,  as I was focused on the utilitarian aspects of the saw.   However,  since the price was right,  I acquired this odd mixture of the functional and the aesthetic.
 .
.
Because life is always complicated,  I put it aside for a bit.   Finally, though,  the work of using the saw came up on the list and bubbled to the top,   I pulled out the saw,  with the plan of simply cutting the woven thing off it, and discarding it.   However,  when I looked at it again,  it spoke to me,  and convinced me that destruction was NOT what should happen!   So,  instead of trimming back the branches that Saturday, so I could mow without having to do the Limbo under them,  I carefully disassembled the saw,  and removed the woven art from it – intact.   It was  rather fiddly work,  so it is probably a good thing that I am a tad Obsessive/Compulsive!
.
.
Once the art was free of its frame,  I  got it rolled up, and tucked it away in storage.   As for the saw…I spent a couple more hours putting it back together,  sharpening the blade, and then, was ready to saw.   It worked great,  by the by…  Just at the moment,  I do not know where it is,  but, I am fairly sure I still have it tucked away in a box someplace,  awaiting the end of the chaotic moves that the last 5-6 years have been filled with.
.
.
As for the art…It stayed in storage, quietly sleeping in the dark  until last week.   I was down in the barn,  feeding the barn cats (who I am gradually getting closer to being able to pet),  and moving some boxes around to try and evaluate what I have lost during the moves,  what has been stolen from the barn,  what has been destroyed by the storage, and what I still have left of the large collection of useful and useless things I started out with a decade ago when leaving the house in North Knoxville became necessary.   The good news is that, so far,  my packing was good enough that,  in spite of less than ideal storage,  most of the things I managed to move are intact.   As for the rest..well…no matter.   The important thing is that I opened one box,  and found,  rolled up inside,  the woven art I had acquired all those years ago.
.
.
.
I took it up to the Octagon with me,  and,  as you can see,  above, after some thought and construction of a shadow box frame,  have finally gotten it back to a state where it can be hung on the wall,  and enjoyed again.   Since I am older, and, I hope,  wiser,   I find that I am looking at it with different eyes.   I see more in it than I did when I first got it, and,  I am rather glad that I hung onto it, and kept it intact.
.
.
However,  Now,  I  have another problem.   I would like to know more about it.   Of course, the antique shop where I got it knew NOTHING about it, nor,  were there any notes attached to it.   So…Here is what I know.
.
.
  • It was created sometime before 1970.
  • It is of all natural materials.
  • I purchased it in the East Tennessee area,  probably in the Sevierville/Gatlinburg area.
  • When I contemplate it,  I see a strong,  Native American influence.   Since the Cherokee are still around this area (in spite of the efforts of that Scummy Bastard,  Andrew Jackson),  It could be their work.  However,  it seems to have a far more “South Western” look to me.
  • There is a leather tab woven into it,  with a logo on it that might help identify the artist…but no luck so far!
 .
.
So…I present this for your interest and pleasure (I hope),  and I ask…if ANYONE out there looks at this and says to themselves…”WOW,  that looks like what my Great Grandmother/Grandfather  used to do”,  or “I have a bit of art with that same logo signature on it!”,  please leave a comment on this blog entry.   If you are an Ethnologist,  specializing in Native America Culture,  DEFINITELY get in touch with me! (*smile*).
.
.
Whether or not I find out anything about this art, or who created it…I have to say that I thank the Artist  for creating a lovely  piece of weaving that  brings a bright spot of pleasure to the world!   We need more of these moments right now,  because it is, alas, a rather dark time in our history.
.
.
God Help Us All!
.
.
Bee Man Dave
.
.

=-=-=-=-=
Powered by Blogilo

Posted in Art, Characters, General, Humanity, MultiMedia, Ruminations, Sculpture, Something Good This Way Comes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Day, Another Massacre

Greetings and Salutations;

One of the disconcrting issues of the day is the fact that America is becoming a more deadly place.   We apparently have a huge crop of domestic terrorists,  who have been emboldened by the current administration.   Now,  they are coming out from under their rocks,  and perpetuating acts of violence upon innocent civilians.   Today, Sunday, 2017/11/05,  one of these slime walked up to a small church in a small town in Texas.  He was carrying an AR-15.   He walked into the church, and started shooting.   As of this point in time,  the dead and injured numbers are still changing…but it looks as if upwards of 12 people were killed,  and many more than that injured.
 (Update – 2017/11/06 Death toll now at 27,  injured at about 30.)
Of course,  the Social Media today is filled with emotional responses,  essentially calling for all guns to be collected and destroyed.   This reaction is normal,  and expected…after all,  the SAME things have been said after every OTHER shooting in America.   However,   it is not rational,  or possible,  to do this.   Not only is the right of the citizens to bear arms  in the Constitution (that annoying Second Amendment),  but,  for every one madman/terrorist who perpetuates an act like this,  there are hundreds of thousands of good Citizens  who own guns,  and,  who do NOT go off the deep end and engage in this madness.   There are, I believe,  better ways to handle this problem…solutions that will WORK, and not turn millions of citizens into Felons over night.  Any such program would either fail (I know that,  were I to have guns in the house,  I would not turn them over to the authorities willingly)  or,  require such a crackdown by the police  that a Totalitarian state would look like a Picnic in the Park with George!   In the latter case, the concept of the Constitutional protections would be flushed and likely would be gone for good.
The NRA,  which has turned into a rather frightening,  fanatical society (which has caused a HUGE exodus away from membership by rational gun owners in the past couple of decades)  needs to get its act together.   It needs to return to what it was 40 years ago…a group of concerned citizens who are focused on education about gun safety,  and rational use.   Today,  though,  not only has it become a group of raving fanatics,  but,  it is nothing more that a whore for the Gun Manufacturers…pushing THEIR interests above those of the citizenry.

Elsewhere,  I discuss some changes in gun laws that I think would make a huge difference in helping keep guns out of the wrong hands and would cut down on the accidental shootings that plague us.

However, if we want to stop the violence, we need to focus on doing that, not the tools used. America is going through a terrible period where it seems that much of society is programmed to believe that the way to deal with ANY issue is to first, pull out a gun and shoot something or someone. This is insane. Change that, and the problems with gun violence will drop.   How do we change this?  Well,  first off, it will take adults to change their minds  and decide to follow another path.   Then,  those adults that become parents MUST teach their children the values of respecting life, as well as working to de-escalate a situation instead of turning to violence  Given a couple of generations of this teaching,   I suspect America would be a rather better place, and the incidence of gun-related crimes would drop quite a bit.

As for accidental shootings…there is not a one that has happened that is not a result of either ignorance about proper handling and storage of a weapon, or an emotional reaction that eliminates rational thought. I am all for teaching kids about guns as soon as they can grasp the subject. When very young…teach them to not touch it, and find an adult to tell THEM about it. In later years, pound into them the number one rule of gun safety – that is that every gun should be treated as if it is loaded and ready to fire. So…do not point it at anything you want to avoid having a hole in. They are tools not toys..

Finally, as to the scum shooter in Texas – he left a trail a mile wide and packed with red flags indicating that he was likely to do something like this.  Even in these early hours of the investigation into the incident,   it is clear to me that he had several problems that could lead to this violence.  EVERYONE should be aware of what those red flags are, and if they see them in a friend, family member or acquaintance, be SURE to report this to the proper authorities.

(Update – 2017/11/06 –  The shooter had received a less than honorable discharge from the Air Force after serving a 2 year sentence for Domestic Abuse;  He apparently had anger management issues)

 

 

God Help Us All.
Bee Man Dave

=-=-=-=-=
Powered by Blogilo

Posted in Ethics, Heath, Humanity, Nuttiness, Politics, Ruminations, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Total Eclipse, 2017 – Part 1 – The Science

Greetings and Salutations!
 .
On August 21, 2017,  I,  along with millions of Americans,  made an effort to be in the path of Totality  of the Solar Eclipse.   I have been  witness to a number of partial eclipses,  but,  this was my first,  Total Eclipse.   It was a surprisingly profound and moving experience for me,  and,  I am still mulling over what I witnessed over that 3 minute period covering the last moments of the Sun’s disk being covered,  the time of Totality itself,  and the return of the Light.  In this post,  I am going to focus more on the Science,  and discuss the non-squishy things that I observed during this event!   As it turned out,  I was lucky enough to be in Springfield, TN, for the Eclipse (visiting inlaws).  Springfield was located about 15 miles SOUTH of the Center of the path of Totality,  so,  we were treated to almost 2 minutes of the Umbra.  This was great,  as it allowed me time to observe around me,  and still have time to look up at the Sun,  to admire the Corona, and see the Diamond Ring when the Moon started to uncover the Sun’s disk.
 .
I had contemplated on the weeks leading up to the day,  that I would make use of my wife’s good DSLR, and lenses,  to image the Eclipse itself.   However,  I decided  that,  since there were going to be a FLOOD of cameras pointed at the Eclipsed Sun,  that I would concentrate on the events around me, here on Earth.   Subsequently,  I still have no regrets about this decision.   There were many interesting things happening over that short period that I would have missed,  had I been staring up at the Sun and Moon.
 .

Of course,  as I had seen before,  as the Moon started to cover the

Umbra as photographed from the ISS

Sun’s surface,  the light around us gradually dimmed.  As it got darker and darker,  it seemed as if a blanket of silence was being laid across the world.   The Cicadas,  which had been buzzing along with enthusiasm through the morning hours,  fell silent.   We had heard and seen birds flying around the skies and chirping from the trees.   The birds gradually ceased making noise.   While Springfield is a rather smallish bedroom community for Nashville,  it is large enough that as the morning passed,  I could easily hear the sounds of traffic,  and music from a small Fair that was set up a ways from the house.   Even those sounds faded out with the last gleams of Sunlight,  and the darkness of Totality  covering the world.

.

Umbra crossing America, Photographed by Lunar Orbiter

The quality of light during an Eclipse is quite interesting and weird too.  Normally,  when the world goes dark,  it is because of Sunset.   The quality of light changes to a warmer,  more orange or reddish tone as it is filtered through more of the atmosphere by the Sun “Setting”.  Not during an eclipse.  While the intensity of light fades,  the quality of the light remains  a silvery-blue that is the normal spectrum of full Sunlight.   Also,  when Totality passes across one’s location  the light level drops,   it is so sudden as to be shocking.  It is as if a giant light switch had been clicked off.  It became VERY dark.  It was not pitch black by any means, and still, the quality of light remained that silvery-blue that I mentioned before.   However, it was dark enough that people some 50 feet away from me were little more than moving shadows.   I had looked in the direction of the approaching Umbra,  and while I did not get a good or lengthy look at it,   I did see it in the distance, roaring across the landscape towards us.  The shadow on the Earth, and the column of darkness reaching into the Sky had an almost physical presence.   Since the Umbra moves at about 1500 MPH,  it was but a heartbeat after I saw it that the darkness of Totality engulfed us.   I took a moment to look around at the horizon right after Totality started.   Again,  it was a very weird moment.   I could,  off in the distance,  see the oranges and yellows of a Sunset…however,  unlike a “normal” Sunset,  that color was a circle that surrounded us entirely, and looked the same in ALL directions.
 .
 .
Another aspect of the Eclipse was the change in temperature.  While I did not have a recording thermometer,  there was a distinct ramping down of air temperature as the Sun’s disk was covered by the Moon.   The area where I was at was a stone patio,  by a swimming pool.  When the Sun was blasting down with full strength,  there was a distinct feeling of heat from the light reflected back from the flagstones.   That decreased slowly as the Solar Disk was covered by the Moon.   When Totality hit,  the temperature dropped a few more degrees…very suddenly.  The temperature when the Eclipse started  had been up above 90F.   At Totality,  it was almost chilly,  as if we had lost about 20F.   It was not uncomfortable,  by any means,  but it was quite noticeable.   After Totality Passed,  and the disk started to re-appear,  the temperatures warmed right back up to that 90F level.  For a 3 minute period,  it was quite a roller coaster, though.
 .
I did hold off putting my protective glasses back on until just after seeing the Diamond Ring as the Moon moved past the edge of the Sun’s Disk.  However,  even the tiny sliver of the Sun that was revealed a few seconds later was painful to look at,  so, it was very good to have the glasses.
 .
 .
I had learned,  quite some time ago,  that the spaces in the leaves of plants that allowed dots of Sunlight through would act as a pinhole camera,  and produce many, small images of the crescent of the Sun’s disk  in those couple of minutes before and after the maximum Eclipse happened.  Luckily right next to where I was observing from,  there was a rose bush that provided a number of these small apertures,  so I was able to get a picture of the Crescent Sun on the concrete of the wall.  Again,  something interesting and different to look for during the Eclipse.
 .
 .
 .
 .
To touch on light effects again…we all know that when we look at a shallow swimming pool,  the bottom of the pool will be covered with a grid of light, looking rather like a net.  That comes from the tiny wave peaks in the top surface of the water,  focusing the Sunlight on the bottom,  like a long lens.   Well,  as the Sun was being covered by the Moon,  and became closer and closer to a point source of light,  instead of a large disk, that grid disappeared.  All that was left were some expanding rings where spray from a circulation pump was hitting the surface of the water.   These rings were small enough that they were almost completely wiped out by the grid,  and the width of the disk of the Sun.   They were normally just kind of fuzzy shadows on the floor of the pool.   This was likely because the point source of the Sun in its last moments before it was completely covered  allowed these tiny variations in the surface of the water to focus a sharp image on the floor of the pool.
 .
 .
One other positive thing about this Eclipse was that I was able to point out some of these phenomena to other folks with me,  and,  I think that their experience viewing the Eclipse  was enhanced a bit.  I did not pester them a lot,  but, for things like the small, projected Crescent Sun images,  had I not called their attention to them,  they would never have seen them.
 .
I was glad that I was able to observe almost everything I had on my mental checklist.   For example, while I was looking at the Corona,  I also observed Venus (which was VERY easy to see.
 .
However, there were some things that I did NOT manage to observe (after all,  1:55  is NOT a lot of time!)    I looked for Mercury,  but,  in the short time I had,  I saw neither it, nor the couple of other planets that should have been visible.   I also   was not able to see any stars.  While they were theoretically visible,  the air around Springfield was a bit hazy,  and so,  there was enough sky-glow that it was even hard to see a lot of details in the Corona.    I did not see the “Shadow Bands” that often accompany the moment of Totality, and really did not even look for them.   However,  those things do not detract from the experience at all.
 .
 .
God Help Us All!
 .
Bee Man Dave

=-=-=-=-=
Powered by Blogilo

Posted in Astronomy, Cosmology, General Thoughts, Humanity, Observations, Ruminations, Something Good This Way Comes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why SHOULD Confederate Statues be removed?

Greetings and Salutations;

Neo Nazi protesters at Charlottesville, VA

This week has seen madness in this Great Land that has not happened in decades.   The Events in Charlottesville, VA, are easily found on the Net, in all their disgusting detail.   I may touch on them in another entry, though.   Here,  I want to talk about the excuse used by the Neo Nazis for their attack upon the city.   This was the removal of the statue honoring Confederate General  Robert E. Lee from the public square.
.
.
I have no doubt that General Lee was a brave man and a courageous warrior.  I believe he might well have been an ethical person too.  However,   he was fighting to destroy this great nation, in support of a culture that felt it right and proper to own another human being,  looking up them as sub-human, and nothing more than a tool to be used and abused until they were useless,  then to be discarded and replaced.   He and the entire Confederacy,  were  wrong.  They fought for their cause and lost…perhaps because their cause was Evil, and God was on the the side of the Union,  perhaps because their economy  did not support a war machine as well as the North did…It does not matter.  The bottom line is that they lost, and their attempts to destroy America failed.
.
.
There are many that, today,  still are fighting that war.  They grumble under their breath about the “War of Northern Aggression”  and “The South Shall Rise Again”.  They often display the stars and bars – the pseudo-Confederate flag that has come to represent that time.   Many of them are simply young, and ignorant.  They have no idea of the reality of what they are praising meant.  Some are still stained with the Evil of racism, White Supremacy, and White Nationalism  that drove much of the conflict in those bloody years of 1861-1865.   These latter folks are the real danger to America.   The ignorant idealists can be educated, and when presented with the reality of that time,  no longer support it or idealize it.   However, the distressing number of Racists and Neo Nazis that this administration has enticed out from under the rocks is a sign that America has a LONG way to go yet.   It was this latter group that marched through Charlottesville,  chanting Nazi Slogans,  carrying torches,  and, clashing with the counter protesters.
.
.
So..Why are we removing the Statues of Confederate Generals from the Public Square?   Many of these were put up well after the end of the War,  beginning in 1917 , through  the 1950s and 1960s,  as a reaction by “The Cult of the Lost Cause”  to the Civil Rights marches and attempts on the part of citizens of color to gain the equal recognition and protections they were due under the Constitution.  This was the beginning of the enactment of “Jim Crow” laws around the country.   The purpose of these memorials was not to remember  the Civil War,  but to bring fear to the hearts of people of color.  They were there to remind all those people that the people that fought to keep them in the dehumanization and bondage of Slavery were not only still around,  but were, in many cases, still in power.   Also,  they are glorification of a failed society.  They are honoring the Generals who were Traitors to the United States.  To leave them up in a position of honor in the Public Square, is not only to continue that oppression of people of color,  but, could be  acknowledging that perhaps these people were right…and had a point worth supporting.   They did not.  They were on the wrong side of Society, and because of that were  defeated.  While the statues should be preserved,  they should be tucked away in museums along with the other historical debris of time,   surrounded with evidence of what actually caused the Civil War,  and why it failed.
.
 .
 The Mayor of New Orleans addressed this recently,  in talking about why that city was removing  its statues of Confederate Generals.  I think he put it very eloquently, and it is worth reading his full presentation.  However,  here is a video of an excerpt of it that really strikes home.

.

This address,   given in May, 2017,  really strikes to the heart of the arguments, both for and against keep these Confederate Statues ups,  and shows WHY they should be removed and put in museums,  not in the Public Square. It is more than worth to 20 minutes this gentleman speaks.  It is worth listening to several times to remind us what reality is.

God help Us All

 

Bee Man Dave

=-=-=-=-=
Powered by Blogilo

Posted in Ethics, General, Humanity, Politics, Sculpture | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

the donald and the BSA

Greetings and Salutations;

Boy Scouts sing and dance to music as they await the arrival of President Trump at the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree at the Summit in Glen Jean,W. Va., Monday, July 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

I have said before that it appears there is no depths to which this world will sink and America will run towards in its march to relevance in the world.   This last Monday,  we had another example of that,  when the donald visited the Boy Scouts of America’s Jamboree.   Held every four years,  this time there were about 40,000 boys gathered for it.  There are quite a few transcripts and recordings of the speech that he gave to the assembled crowd of Scouts,  so I will not waste space here  going into it in detail.   However,  I do have a few  things to point out about it.
  • When the donald started his speech he said he was not going to make a political speech.   Yet, almost immediately,  he dropped into his usual campaign speech,  including digs at President Obama,  threats towards his staff about failing to repeal the ACA and the like.
  • He took a dig at the HHS Secretary,  claiming that he was going to fire the man if he failed to get the ACA repealed.   This is not only kind of pathetic,  it is a cowardly abrogation of his OWN role in that goal.   The ACA is not likely to be repealed because Congress realizes that only about 17% of Americans want this,  and they like those cushy jobs in D.C.  However,  if the president takes a back seat to the process and does NOTHING to push for its repeal,  then there is even less of a chance it will vanish.
  • He not only took a dig at President Obama for not showing up at the Jamboree  while in office,  but, he got the crowd to “Boo” the ex-president.   This is typical behavior for the donald  but  had no place in this speech or at this event.
  • Finally,  the donald felt it was appropriate to make a number of snide remarks about the “Fake News” media (which,  to him, apparently means anyone who does not agree with him without question).
The Scouts brought no honor to their organization either.   They were good, little, stooges,  applauding and cheering when the donald talked about what a great president he was,  and,  booing President Obama on cue.   I can understand the donald’s behavior, after all,  HE was never a Boy Scout.  However,  every one of the 40,000+ folks in that rally  have,  time and time again,  sworn the same Oath.  For those of us whose memory is fuzzy…here it is:
On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. 
Every one of those Scouts recites and swears to adhere to the Scout Law  which says:
A Scout is:
    Trustworthy,
    Loyal,
    Helpful,
    Friendly,
    Courteous,
    Kind,
    Obedient,
    Cheerful,
    Thrifty,
    Brave,
    Clean,
    and Reverent.
Their actions at this rally upheld NONE of these goals..and in deserting that Oath and Law,  every one of them besmirched the reputation of the Scouts,  and crapped on the grave of Baden-Powell.   I can only hope that yesterday and today,  the reactions of that crowd has triggered some serious discussion about Scouting,  and what those words mean,  between the kids and their parents or Scout Masters.   I also hope that every one of these kids will have the insight and wisdom to contemplate and learn from the fact that they were conned by a flim-flam man  into deserting their beliefs,  and that it took a painfully short time to do this.
In the past couple of days,  there have been a number of reactions,  and much discussion on the News and Commentary channels.   There are reports that a noticeable number of parents are pulling their kids out of the Scouting program because of this event.   There have been an increasing number of condemnations of the event and its political nature, from Eagle Scouts of all ages.   The administrators of the Scouting Program in America issued the following press notice
 “The Boy Scouts of America is wholly nonpartisan and does not promote any one position, product, service, political candidate, or philosophy,” the statement said. “The invitation for the sitting US president to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition and is in no way an endorsement of any political party or specific policies.
“The sitting US president serves at the BSA’s honorary president,” it continued. “It is our long-standing custom to invite the US president to the National Jamboree.” 
The fact that there is no comment about how appropriate it was to inject politics into this speech is glaring by its absence.    Other,  regional leaders,  were rather more blunt about it,  saying that the speech was wrong and should never have been given.
Another factor in this debate is that as part of the rules of the Organization,   and its attempt to remain non-political,  it is required that if a Scout is involved in a political event,  it is fine for them to wear the uniform when acting as a Color Guard or the like  However,  any further activity requires that they change OUT of that Uniform, and into civilian clothes.
The BSA has its problems and is not totally clean of politics,  of course.  The ongoing debate over allowing LGBTQ folks in to the organization is still not resolved,  although the BSA has taken some courageous steps forwards on the issue.   The Para-military aspects of the organization are not always the most comfortable thing to deal with.   That having been said, though,  I am of the opinion that the organization does more good than evil in the world.   The skills that kids in the program learn will stay with them,  and give them the ability to handle the random problems of life in a more positive fashion.   The values that the Oath and Laws teach will reinforce their path to becoming good, productive and positive Citizens.   The group functions of Scouting,  ranging from local camping trips, to events like the Jamboree,  hone their ability to work as a team,  and may be the only introduction to people with radically different views.  That introduction is important, of course, because it can help build understanding,  and tolerance into their Rules for Life.    One of Baden-Powell’s goals was to ensure that every boy that came through the program would end up with these values engraved on their heart, and that these values would become a guiding light for their life.
This event went a long way towards eroding away those values, though, and taught some lessons that are destructive,  hateful,  and the complete abrogation of what a Boy Scout should be.
it is hard to know what to do to clean up some of these issues.   Luckily,  I am far past Scouting,  and have no children in the program,  so,  I do not have to spend sleepless nights trying to decide what to do about this.   I would like to see  some things happen in the future, though.
  • I would like to see a much stronger statement from the ruling Council,  specifically condemning the donald’s speech for dragging politics into the event.
  • I would like to see the Convening Authority do the same thing that Rev. Faith Green Timmons of the Bethel United Methodist Church did when the donald started an angrily political speech in her church in September,  last year.   She stood right up,  stopped him and said “Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us for what we’ve done in Flint, not give a political speech”    Here,  by the by, is a link to that moment
  • I would like to see,  over the next year,  the BSA focus more on upholding the Oath and Law, and what it stands for…so the NEXT time this happens,   either the boys will walk out,  or, at the very least,  they will not enthusiastically support such speech.

Baden-Powell  wrote the following in his final letter to the International Organization he created:   “… I have had a most happy life and I want each one of you to have a happy life too. I believe that God put us in this jolly world to be happy and enjoy life. Happiness does not come from being rich, nor merely being successful in your career, nor by self-indulgence. One step towards happiness is to make yourself healthy and strong while you are a boy, so that you can be useful and so you can enjoy life when you are a man. Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things God has made the world for you to enjoy. Be contented with what you have got and make the best of it. Look on the bright side of things instead of the gloomy one. But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best. ‘Be Prepared’ in this way, to live happy and to die happy — stick to your Scout Promise always — even after you have ceased to be a boy — and God help you to do it”

 

It would do well for the BSA to re-read this,  and work to return to that vision of what the Organization should be.  Perhaps,  with time and effort,  the Members, present and past, of the Scouts can restore some of the honor lost this week.

God Help Us All
Bee Man Dave

=-=-=-=-=
Powered by Blogilo

Posted in Ethics, General Thoughts, Humanity, Nuttiness, Political rants, Questionable decisions, Snake Oil | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tick, Tick, Tick….A PSA for the Summer

Greetings and Salutations…
A small PSA for the Summer.
For whatever reason,  the flea, mosquito and tick problem  is pretty terrible this year.  The relatively warm winter,  the early warm up to Spring-like temps, and the rains that have swept across the country have ensured they are breeding like gangbusters.   So,   what do we do about this?
Prevention is the cheapest and least complicated way to deal with the problem.  All three pests can be slowed down by taking these actions:
  • Wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts when out in the grass for any lengthy time.  If possible pull your socks up and over the end of the pant legs.
  • make sure to use a good product like Back Woods OFF to spray legs from waist down to feet.
  • Spray your wrists where the shirt sleeves stop (or your entire arm, if you are wearing a short sleeve shirt).
  • Do not forget to treat any OTHER exposed skin (back of the neck,  face,  etc)   I suggest spraying the product on your hands and rubbing it on your face, though.  I am no fan of spraying stuff directly at my face!
  • There are some sporting goods suppliers that sell squeeze bottles of pure DEET…which is GREAT for zapping most bugs that want to feed on you.  But,  read and heed the instructions for application of the stuff as it is pretty strong stuff.

Now, here is a very informative article about Mosquitoes, both discussing their life cycle,  and offering excellent suggestions on controlling them.   (I recommend reading it.)

The steps I suggest above,  and others which are talked about in the various articles I have linked,   should go a long way to eliminating mosquito  and flea bites.
 Ticks,  alas are a different issue entirely.   While the above precautions will go a long way to keeping them off you,  it is not perfect…so you MAY end up being a host.  On the positive side,  most of the time,  ticks will crawl around for a while before biting into your skin.They are looking for a warm, damp,  protected place with plenty of blood vessels close to the surface.  Also,  some ticks are so species specific that they are unlikely to attach to a human…but I would not bet on that to keep ME from being a host.   The tick,  once it gets onto your skin,  and finds a good place will then bite into you,  looking for blood.   One bit of “good” news is that they have to be dug in for about 24 hours before they are likely to transmit any of the several,  nasty diseases they carry.
I recommend that when you come in from a day frolicking in Nature (and in this case, I will include working in the garden,  mowing the lawn,  trimming bushes and trees and such like tasks),   head to the bathroom.  Strip down to skin and spend some time carefully checking out your entire body for ticks.  Remember what I said about where ticks like to hang out?  The human body has several areas that qualify so be sure to check carefully there.   I suggest having a pair of pliers handy for the ones that have not dug in yet.   When you find one crawling around on your skin, grab it with the pliers,  crush it,  and toss its flattened carcase into the trash.  It is a quite satisfying feeling.   If they have already attached,  there are a number of places on the Net with excellent instructions on how to remove them intact, so one does not leave a head attached to the sin.  I either slide a small blade from my pocket knife along the skin,  and carefully scrape the bug off.   I also have,  in my medicine closet,  a defunct credit card  with a triangular notch cut out of a narrow side.   It starts about 1/4″ wide,  and tapers to a point,  after about an inch.   I press that card against my skin,  and slide the notch around the tick.  As I keep pushing,  the notch will capture it,  and lever the jaws out without breaking up the tick.
(I really want to make a snide statement about the current state of politics here…but will restrain myself to keep from moving past the point of simply mentioning the urge…)
Now,  how about fleas?   They are pretty amazing creatures in some ways.  They can jump mind-bogglingly high off the ground,  and it seems like they can create generations every two days.  I know it takes about two WEEKS,  but,  if one gets fleas in the house,  It seems like the volume goes from no fleas to billions of them overnight!   They are a problem that needs dealing with though…as they, too,  carry diseases,  and,  they swarm in such huge numbers that, like vampires,  they can kill companion animals from blood loss.   Here,  by the by, is a good article about fleas…with pretty amazing images….
So…what do we do when the period on the page your are reading starts moving and then springs away and your realize your companion animal(s) have been scratching and grooming almost constantly for the past few days.
I tend to attack both in the short term and the long-term.
  • First off,  I get a bowl filled with a mixture of water and dishwashing detergent.   I put a goodly squeeze from the bottle in and carefully swirl the water to mix the detergent in without creating foam.  Foam is bad!
  • I take the bowl,  and a flea comb, and start working on the first animal I can get my hands on.   I comb the areas where they cannot reach easily (upper neck,  side of face behind and below ears,  and across the top of the head and down the spine to the tail.
  • With each stroke of the comb, I usually get a combination of some hair,  and a bunch of fleas.   I take the loaded comb,  and dip it into the bowl,  then, scrape the flea/hair mix off into the bowl.  The detergent ensures tht the fleas will not float, so, they are goners.   If, by the by, when you are doing this,  the water starts turning red,  that is blood from the animal that the flea has already ingested and deficated.   It shows that it is VERY GOOD to be doing this.  Repeat this step for all companion animals in the house.
  • As quickly as possible,  I get a topical flea treatment for the animal(s),  and treat all of them.
  • Speaking of topical treatments.   There are three that I have had excellent results from.   Revolution,   Advantage II  and a clone of the latter called Advectra.   I have used many of the absorbed inseciticides over the years,  and these are the only ones I have found that do not bother the animals,  do a great job of killing the fleas and ticks on them,  and keeping them parasite free for up to a month.
  • It is also possible to get a flea shampoo from the Vet that works well, but, the joy of that experience depends entirely on how happy your animals are about getting a bath.   I have had a few over the years that were fine with it,  but most of them hate it.    As an alternative,  the “Original formula” Dawn dishwashing detergent works VERY well.   It will not leave any residue that will help keep the fleas from repopulating the animal,  but, it does get rid of the current crop.
Now, then…For a longer term attack.
  • After getting the animal(s) treated and cleaned up a bit…wash every bit of clothing that they have been in contact with.   Hot water and extra detergent.  and an extra rinse is the way I go about it.   This includes bedclothes…
  • If you have a single area where the animal(s) like to hang out a lot,  set up a “Flea Trap” there.  If you have a small, desk lamp, no purchases needed.   make up a detergent bowl as detailed before,  and set it on the floor where there is likely to be a concentration of fleas.  Set the lamp up,  pointing down into the bowl,  with the shade two or three inches above the bowl.   Turn the lamp on and leave it for a few days.   You will likely see a bunch of flea bodies at the bottom of the bowl.  Leave the trap there until the bodies stop accumulating.
  • Get a treatment to spread around the house and kill the fleas in the rugs,  curtains and furniture.   If none of your furniture has cushons or cloth upholstry on it…that makes the job easier.   There are several good products for this.   Talk to your Vet,  look on Amazon,  poke around on Chewy,  and visit your pet supply stores in the area.
  • Get a spray type treatment for furniture, curtains,  mattresses, pillows and the like.  spray everything down with a fine mist that covers the surfaces as evenly as possible.  They do not have to be WET,  but they should be covered.
  •  There is another alternative treatment that works quite well too.   It is called Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth.  It is available from many sources, and is a fine, flour-like powder.   It is non-toxic and works very well for killing off fleas.
  •   I sprinkle it on the carpet,  work it in with a broom,  leave it for a day or so,  then vacuum the rug.   The DE kills the fleas and the vacuuming removes it, the carcasses, and a bunch of live fleas.    One can use it to treat animals too…just sprinkle it on the animal,  and work it into their fur.  Breathing the small amount of dust that is raised by this is not recommended,  but, has not been a problem  for me.   I suspect people with respiratory issues should wear a mask when working with it.  Vacuum often.  if you have a hose type vacuum,  or a hose attachment,  be sure to run slowly along the molding at the base of the walls.   When the bag is full,  take the cleaner outside,  carefully remove the bag,  and dispose of it without taking it back inside.   The bags typically hold the fleas in,  but,  there is a chance that the fleas will escape and re-infest.
  • If you go outside and see fleas on your skin or clothing right outside the door,  there are some spray concentrates that hook to a water hose and will cover several thousand square feet,  killing off the fleas and ticks,  and of ten slowing their return.
The flea reproduction cycle ranges from a few days to a couple of weeks…so any eggs that are not killed by the mentioned treatments  will hatch out with the plan of getting some food and reproudcing before they die.  So…to be safe,  plan to treat the companion animal(s) once a month for three months.    Plan to spray or use DE a couple of times a month for the next three months.  It is a pain to do,  but,  it takes work to beat back Nature at times.
With luck you will never have to deal with these issues…but if you do…hang in there.   In the end,  the fleas will be gone  and by preventative treatment next year,  (Topical Flea treatment when the fleas start hatching out in the early Summer,  or DE treatments, and a yard spray),   they should not come back.
Have a great  Summer.
God Help Us ALL
Bee Man Dave

=-=-=-=-=
Powered by Blogilo

Posted in General Thoughts, Heath, Misc | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on this Fourth Of July

Greetings and Salutations;
As the midnight hour passed this morning,  and the 4th of July celebration began,  it struck me that there was a huge amount of cognitive dissonance in this year’s celebration.   Some aspects remain the same…There are parades (Gatlinburg holds their parade at midnight,  so can claim to be the first parade of the day).   There is flag waving,   and a celebration of “American Values”.  There are cook-outs,  and fireworks.
Yet, when I look at the holiday,  it feels more hollow than usual this year.   I look at the path that America was put on by the election of the SCROTUS in November.  I look at the unbridled hate expressed by so many for those who are different from them.   I look at the physical violence that is on the rise.   I look at the way America’s reputation in the world has been swept away, and replaced with one of a ship of fools,  captained by a thin-skinned,  vindictive madman with the emotional maturity of a five year old.   It brings me to weep.
The current administration  has appointed heads of departments whose ONE job is to dismantle and destroy those departments.   DeVoss,  the head of the Department of Education,  is a proponent and big investor in Charter schools.   These private institutions  make a ton of money for their investors,  and,  as studies have shown  do a rather worse job than the public school system at educating our children. (http://www.data-first.org/questions/how-do-charter-schools-compare-to-regular-public-schools-in-student-performance/)   One wonders if by simply improving the funding for public schools, and providing more support for the poorly performing schools,  the ones that drag down the averages could not be brought up to provide a good education.    One other issue I have with Charter Schools and the reports claiming they do so much better  a job is that Charter Schools cherry pick their students.   They,  unlike the Public School system  do NOT have to take all comers.  They can skim off the best of the best…which will, naturally,  pump up their scores.
The EPA is under attack too.   The administration is writing Executive Orders to roll back Clean Water and Air regulations.  The EPA’s attempts to monitor and regulate industry, to keep America from turning into a stinking,  industrial wasteland are being killed by the head of the Department.
Speaking of industrial wastelands,   the administration is pushing to cut back the size of various national monuments, parks and sacred sites.  Why?  because there may be valuable minerals or oil under them and Industry,  like the horde of locusts it is,  wants to sweep through and rape the land for a little profit.   These places are the crown jewels of America,  and a huge tourist draw for people around the world.  There appears to be a move afoot to allow loggers into the Sequoia National Forest…which will mean that we will see toothpicks made from majestic trees that have been growing longer than America has been in existence.
The tragedy goes on and on, alas.   To top it off,  the Republicans continue to show contempt for the vast majority of citizens.   Craig Christie,  Governor of New Jersey for example,  has offended many with this closing many state beaches and facilities to public use,  due to a budget conflict.   However,  as these pictures demonstrate,  “the Public” does not include the Governor and his family
All that having been said (and with these, I have just skimmed the top of the cess pool),  America does retain much of its greatness,  and SHOULD be celebrated.   Most Americans are still polite,  friendly folks who will make room for a stranger, and treat them well.   For example,  here is a picture from  a New York Subway…The photographer who took it, Jackie Summers,  pointed out that he, a Taoist,  had moved so a Hassidic couple could sit together,  and,  that couple had scooted over to make room for a Muslim woman to nurse her baby.   That is what America is all about…accepting diversity, and making room for it.   We are not the hateful,  angry,  reactionaries who are causing the violence and hate.
Do you want to really Celebrate the Fourth of July as an embodiment of what is best about America?   Take a moment to do a kindness to a stranger.   Rescue a companion animal that is in danger of dying either in a shelter or on the street.   When you get lunch at a restaurant,  see if they provide contributed meals to the needy and homeless.  If so…contribute the cost of your lunch towards that fund.   If you see someone who is sad and feeling lonely,  invite them to the cookout.   If you have a friend who you have not seen in  a while…touch base with them…invite THEM to the cookout!   Simply take a moment to do something kind  without expecting thanks or a reward. Walk away from a political argument online.    It will honor you and America.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
 
(inscribed on The Statue of Liberty)
God Help America
Bee Man Dave

=-=-=-=-=
Powered by Blogilo

Posted in Ethics, General, General Thoughts, Humanity, Observations, Politics, Questionable decisions, Something Good This Way Comes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“how we treat the least of these…”

Greetings and Salutations;

This may be a bit of a downer,  but it is important…and should not be lost among the tsunami of Evil that is flooding America today.

 

I have been involved,  to one level or another with rescuing Companion Animals for decades.   Sadly,   the supply of discarded animals is still FAR too huge.   This was a disgrace in the 60s,  and continues to be just as bad today.   What does this mean?   Well,  It means that kittens like this:

are routinely taken to shelters, and, typically within a few hours,  or if they are VERY lucky,  a few days,   they are injected with a poison and killed.   Black cats are STILL the last to be adopted and the first to be killed in a shelter.   We have just passed the Summer Solstice.  The Springtime months mean that shelters and rescue groups are overwhelmed with a flood of kittens and pregnant cats.  These range from feral cats that have been caught by someone,  to house cats whose owners  have not had fixed, and have gotten out into the world.  Instead of dealing with the kittens,  these people seem to think that,  magically,  by dropping their cat off at the shelter,  the kittens will all end up in a loving home, as will Mom Cat.   This is, alas, delusional.   Most of these animals face the needle in days or weeks (at most).
I have written  about this before,   but, until the problem lessens quite a bit, I will continue to bring it up…
     What then,  can we do?
  1. Rescue an adult cat from the shelter and give it a good home.  Kittens are cute,  but,  Adults can be far better companion animals.
  2. If adding a Companion Animal  to your household is not possible,  that is fine.  However,  what about fostering a cat or dog for a time?   This is inexpensive,  and easy to do.
  3. Contact your local shelters and Rescue Groups and find out what they need.   Typically,  these needs include blankets,  dry and wet food,  cleaning supplies,   etc.
  4. Pressure your local government to provide adequate funding and support to allow the shelter to become “No Kill”.
  5. If you see or interact with an animal that appears to be a stray,  please do not just walk by it.   If you cannot reach out and help the animal directly,  then, keep the contact information  of a couple of rescue groups in your phone,  and take a minute to let them know about the situation.
  6. If you can take time to help a stray or Feral animal,  please do so…Feed  the cats on your porch, and,  arrange for them to get neutered.   There are rescue groups that will help with this,  and many locations now have low cost or free “fixing days”

 

None of these actions are difficult, or expensive, but they will make the difference between life and death for an animal that has depended on humans for thousands of years.  Most if not all of these animals have been mistreated by humans…and it is up to those of us who choose to be Guardians…or simply to help out a little,  to balance that Karma a bit.
God Help Us All
Bee Man Dave

=-=-=-=-=
Powered by Blogilo

Posted in Ethics, General Thoughts, Humanity, Politics, Ruminations, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Some Thoughts On Father’s Day

Greetings and Salutations;

 

I thought I would take a moment today,  since it is Father’s Day, to talk about something that is not a political rant or a discussion of bees and their world.

 

From Left: Unknown Fingertip, Dr. J. O. Mundt, Earl Mundt

 

     My Father,  John  Orvin Mundt,  had a pretty amazing life.   He was born in Wisconsin,    and grew up on a farm,  where he certainly learned the necessity for,  and the value of,  hard work!  This ensured that he would keep a large garden planted with enough produce to feed three families going every year to the day he died.  This was a family affair, too,  as not only the kids  got to be yard slaves taking care of weeding and picking the produce,  but, even Mom was pulled into it.  On the positive side,  she was the one that ensured that we always had a goodly area of the garden covered in flowers (that we could enjoy,  but did not have to pick)  However, his “Safe Place”  and Zen Temple was the three, 200+  foot rows of Raspberry plants that he lovingly cared for around the year.  He would come in from work in the late Summer and through the Fall,  and work his way slowly through the tangle of canes,  trimming them,  removing the stubs of old canes,  weeding,  and carefully squirting a drop of shellac onto each cut end to keep the Cane Borer beetles from burrowing down the soft centers of the plants,  laying eggs and hurting the plants.

 

     As a young man, he survived the Great Depression,  although he nearly starved to death during it,  and, it left some scars that never did heal.   Because of that experience in his life,  he was  not willing to let a single morsel of food go to waste.   We had to clean our plates of every bite.   When we processed the produce from the garden,  we had to get every last sliver of tomato, or kernel of corn  into the jars.   We pressure-canned everything, so it would stay good for a long time.  Now,  with up to four kids and two adults in the house,  we made it through the rest of the year on those jars of canned produce.

 

     When he was a boy, in Wisconsin,  he felt he was not welcomed at Church.  As a poor farm boy,  he did not have nice clothes to wear.  His worn, but, clean,  coveralls and shirts were looked down upon by the other members.  However,  in spite of that,  he persisted in the teachings of the Lutheran Church,  and, while he struggled at times with the conflict between Dogma  and reality,  he did,  I believe,  gain much spiritual growth from the Church and its teachings.  He, like all of us had his failings,  but,  as long as I knew him he always exhibited the best of Christ’s Message…He loved and cared for all,  and had no prejudices against other people because of cultural, sexual, or racial differences.  He also did his best to pass on those attitudes to his children,  and, I have to say,   looking at my brother and sisters,  I believe that he did a far better job of that than he believed he had done.

 

     He was a quiet man,  who was prone to NOT talk about himself to any extent.   Was it because he still had painful wounds to his soul that he did not want to reveal?   Was it because he was more interested in others than himself?   I believe that both of these are true,  but that the latter came to be the dominant factor in his life.  Lord Knows,  he had some wounds too!   Decades after his death,  after many conversations with my siblings,  and comparing notes,  I have come to the conclusion that my father either WAS one of the German-Americans that were interned during World War 2,  or he was very close to those that were swept up in that debacle,  and it rattled his world.   Perhaps the worst part of this,  is that Dad  was always kind of in awe of a country where a poverty stricken farm boy from rural Wisconsin  could get access to such great support and educational resources at little or no cost.   These allowed him to continue his education to become a world-renowned Microbiologist,  speaking many languages and reading more,  with many discoveries in the field to his name, and, being able to influence the life Journey of many, many students.

 

     His work at the University of Tennessee,  with the students,  was another example of his caring for others.   He made it a point to learn as much as possible about the students he was advising,  and honestly evaluate their prospects in the field.   Being German Lutheran,  he was quite willing to tell a student that they had no aptitude for the work.   However, unlike many advisers,  he would go on to talk with them about their strengths, and to suggest alternative degrees that they ought pursue.  MOST of the students he had to do this with came to appreciate him quite a bit…because he had been absolutely right,  and they ended up in a degree program that fit them far better and gave them much more happiness and success.   Some students ignored his advice, and pushed on.  I have, over the years,  run across a few of these, and a number of times,  they had gotten a degree in Microbiology,  and then had ended up in a career change to something that had nothing to do with the topic.   Dad was not perfect…he did make mistakes and some of those students he had advised to bail out,  attacked the subject with greater determination than ever,  and successfully got their degree.   They may well have found a niche in the broad field that really did fit them well, too.

 

     I could go on at great length about the successes and failures of my Father,  and how he taught me much from both of them.   Perhaps, though,  that is more for a different post.  I wanted to finish off by saying that we had a rough relationship for a lot of my life.  My brother and sisters were FAR more successful in the areas that he held important.   I, though was that little, 9 year old, third child who lost his tools all the time.   HOWEVER,  perhaps the best memory I have, and at least the one I am proudest of,  is that, several years before his death,  our relationship was shaken up and re-formed into a friendship between two adults. The somewhat shocking moment of realization I had that this change had happened was one weekend when he asked me if I would come and speak to his lion’s Club meeting about the world of computers and programming – focusing on it as a career.   I went in,  and did about 45 minutes extemporaneously,  with some props  I had printed off,  and (which will surprise those that know me) kept it relatively short.   Afterward,  as we were driving home, Dad observed that it had been quite a good presentation,  and that I had not used any notes…  He seemed rather impressed that I had become a knowledgeable enough person,  and was well spoken enough to be able to do that.   He rarely exhibited surprise,  but he did at that…

 

     The fact that we became adults, and friends that could speak honestly with each other is both one of the most touching, and biggest honors in my life.   He died years ago, yet,   for some reason, I feel him with me  today,  I am sad that he is not here and I cannot show him my house, and help him with his Raspberries a bit.
Thanks,  Dad.

=-=-=-=-=
Powered by Blogilo

Posted in Ethics, Family, General, Humanity | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Bees….Nature’s Artists!

Greetings and Salutations;
Bees are interesting creatures.   They sometimes do amazing things,  all driven by nothing but instance.   We, who are their Guardians,   are, at times,  amazed by what they do.   For example…I am sure y’all have seen the classic pictures of frames of bees and honey from a Langstroth hive.   It looks amusingly neat,  with row after row of comb,  filled with honey, pollen and brood   lined up on the supporting frames.   Even a wild swarm will,  when it takes residence in a safe cave,  will build comb hanging down from the ceiling in more or less parallel sheets.   However,  this is not always the case.   Sometimes,  if a hive is poorly maintained,   or the cave is too irregular for those neat walls of comb,  then,  the bees will create what is called “Wild Comb”.   They will build a twisting sheet of comb  where ever they can,  in order to make the cells necessary for storage and reproduction.   Sometimes,  these efforts create lovely, almost sculpted, sheets of comb.   Recently,  I ran across a picture of one of these examples of wild comb on the Net,  and thought I would pass it along  here in the blog.
This is worthy,  I think,  of being mounted on a stand,  and admired as an art piece  just as the work of Matisse,  or some other sculptors….
In these days of Darkness…it is a good thing to find even a small example of beauty and glowing life.
God Help Us All.
Bee Man Dave

=-=-=-=-=
Powered by Blogilo

Posted in Art, Beekeeping, Ruminations, Sculpture | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Remember Luther?

Greetings and Salutations;

     Here is something completely different    that I ran across today and I wanted to share it as it struck a chord in me.   One of my good friends shared this on Face Book,   and so I am going to share it with y’all.    It is worth the read,  as “Peter” brings up some very good points.

An Open Letter to Rev. Franklin Graham from a “Small Church” Pastor

 

Dear Frank

Can I call you Frank? This is just pastor to pastor. Feel free to call me Peter. Anyway, I have to say I was flattered when I learned that your Decision America Tour took a detour off the beaten path to call upon us “small community churches.” We are nothing if not small. We seat 30-40 on a good Sunday. And we are a century old fixture of our small community. Most often we are overlooked and overshadowed by mega-churches and politically influential religious voices like your own. We don’t hold a candle to an auditorium filled with the music of a one hundred voice choir led by professional musicians. We probably will never be recognized in any nationally syndicated media. After all, we don’t do anything really “newsworthy.” We just preach the good news of Jesus Christ; love one another the best we can (which sometimes isn’t very well); feed the hungry that come to our doors; care for the sick; comfort the dying; and bury the dead. So thanks for thinking of us. Rest assured, we are ready to respond to your calls to prayer and action.

I have to say, though, that I was a little confused by your summons. Of all the things that worry me, loss of religious freedom for Christians in America isn’t one of them. I can’t say I have ever experienced anything in this country that could reasonably be called a restriction on my religious liberty, much less persecution.  When you started talking about attacks on Christianity, I thought you might have been referring to the racially motivated slaying of pastors and lay people at Mother Emmanuel church in Charlotte some time back. Or I figured you were referring to the slaughter of Coptic Christians in Egypt this past Palm Sunday. That’s what I call persecution. But having to pay a judgment for refusing to bake a cake for a same sex couple in violation of the law against discrimination? This you call persecution? There’s a letter in the Bible, written by the Apostle Peter (ever heard of him?). He’s an expert on persecution, having been on the receiving end of it more than once. He says you don’t get divine kudos from suffering the consequences of breaking the law-even if you are a Christian. Moreover, there is a Christian fellow named Paul (aka Saul) who wrote a letter to a church in Rome nearly two thousand years ago. He said that if your enemy is hungry you should feed him (that’s in the Bible too). So wouldn’t it have been the Christian way to have baked a cake for the same sex couple in your example, even if you deem them enemies (another assertion I don’t quite understand)? I’m confused.

But in any event, Frank, let’s get over this persecution complex. Stop with the drama already! You are not under attack just because you have to follow the rules like everyone else. Look, I understand the owners of this establishment you mention in your speech don’t approve of gay and lesbian people getting married. They don’t have to approve of them. But if they are going to do business in this country, they have to follow the law against discrimination-just like the rest of us. If you don’t like the rules, don’t join the game. It’s that simple. Furthermore, I don’t understand why baking a cake for people whose conduct you find personally offensive is such a big deal. Heck, Frank, if all of us small church pastors refused to bury everyone whose conduct we didn’t approve of, the country would be ten feet deep in corpses!

I am struggling, too, with your claim that Donald Trump is a champion (albeit an unlikely one) for religious freedom. What freedoms are we talking about here, Frank? The freedom to lie with impunity? The freedom to grab young girls by the genitals? The freedom to discriminate against people of color in the sale and rental of real estate? The freedom to refer to women as “dogs,” “fat pigs,” and “ugly”? The freedom to call your opponents “idiots,” “losers,” “liars” and “frauds”? The freedom to slander people with accusations of criminal conduct based on absolutely no evidence? By my count, the above violate at least four of the Ten Commandments (you will find those in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy-both in the Bible). If Donald Trump is the champion of American Christianity, God save it from its enemies!

All kidding aside, you might be right about God putting Donald Trump in the White House-though your reasons for so believing are probably different from what I might conjecture. Still, how do you know that? Where did you get this info? I have to hand it to you, Frank, you sure do have the connections. As I am sure you know, God does not consult with us small church pastors on weighty issues of that kind. So it was kind of you to leak this classified intelligence to all of us who are evidently a good deal further away from the divine pipeline. So let me see if I have this figured out correctly: God doesn’t give a flying fruitcake if we deprive twenty-million people, most of them poor, of access to health care. Nor is God particularly concerned about how men treat women in the workplace, how people of color are treated in the real estate market, how the hungry and homeless are cared for (or not), but God flips out if we bake a cake for a same sex couple to celebrate their wedding? I have to be honest with you, Frank. I’m just not seeing it. Not in the Bible, not in the realm of rational common sense.

Here’s the thing, Frank. At the last judgment, Jesus doesn’t ask anyone about who they voted for, how many times they have been divorced, what their sexual history or orientation is or for whom they did or did not bake wedding cakes. His sole concern is for how we treated the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the imprisoned, those deemed “least” among us. No, I didn’t get that from any private chat with God. We small church pastors have to rely on the Bible for our intel. I got this stuff from the Gospel of Matthew, 25th Chapter to be precise. As I said, that, too, is in the Bible. (It’s a great book, Frank. You should read it sometime.)

You know, Frank, I would like to think that we are brothers. I would like to believe that we are on the same side. I would like to believe that, beneath our differences, we worship the same God and follow the same Savior. But quite honestly, I don’t recognize the Jesus I learned from my parents, my Sunday School teachers, my pastors or my years of study and reflection on the Bible in your angry, fearful rhetoric. Yes, I will answer your call for prayer. But I will be praying for the real victims of persecution-the victims of racial discrimination, sexual violence and bullying. I will answer your call to action. But I will be acting to establish health care as a right for all people; making the college campus and the workplace spaces where women and girls need not fear being called “pigs,” “dogs” or “ugly” nor will they need to fear rich, white celebrity males who feel entitled to grab them by the genitals. I will respond to your call for action by working for a society in which no one needs to worry about where she will sleep at night or where the next meal is coming from. You want prayer? You want action? You’ve got it.

Well, thanks again, Frank, for thinking about us small church folk. I appreciate your concern about our being persecuted and under attack. But don’t worry about us. We don’t have your money, your access to the halls of power or your seeming direct connection to the Almighty. But we have the scriptures, we have prayer, and we are learning every day what it means to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. That’s all we need. You can keep your champion in the White House, thanks just the same.

Christ’s servant and yours,

Peter

I have,  for years,  disliked Franklin Graham,  as he has lost the path that his father,  Billy,  trod with such grace.   He has become corrupted by power and greed,  and his messages every day show this.   It is kind of sad,  both for him, and for the people influenced by his message.   They are on a Dark Path,  that can lead nowhere good.

 

By the by,  this post is from a Blog Site called the Trinity Portico.   Pastor Peter Olsen, the author,  has  a lot of very thoughtful articles on it.  It is DEFINITELY  worth a look.

 

God Help Us All

Bee Man Dave.

 

=-=-=-=-=
Powered by Blogilo

Posted in Ethics, Humanity, Politics, Ruminations | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Hillary Clinton Returns!

Hillary Clinton has finally emerged into the world again.   She had an interesting interview the other day,  where she spoke openly about the 2016 election,  and discussed the issues and problems that caused the donald to steal the Oval Office away from her.   She acknowledged the fact that she made mistakes in the campaign,  which hurt her chances,   but,  she also pointed out that the Comey announcement a week before the election that the FBI was re-opening the email investigation,  and the  massive push on social media of negative stories (many of which were unfounded lies)  probably hurt her more than anything.    I will say that I do agree with her on these points.   I would add to them the fact that the Main Stream Media forgot that it was supposed to be objective and spent entirely too much time focused on the trump train wreck.  While  HRC was out  talking with people in small town halls that had a lot of respectful dialogue,  and working to create the best,  most inclusive platform she could,  the cameras were focused on an empty stage in a packed auditorium,  while everyone waited for the donald to show up and spread his inflammatory messages around like shit in  an animal hoarder’s house. I am sure that,  had the media spent more time reporting on the quiet,  respectful discussions that Hillary (or Bernie) were having,   things might have come out differently.   However, alas,  as they say in the Newspaper Industry – “If it bleeds,  it leads”.   Blood and gore ALWAYS get the front page…as they sell the newspapers or, today,  get clicks into the website.

 

 

 

The really sad thing about her loss of the race is that she likely would have been a GREAT President.   When she was  in Congress,  she was well liked,  and dealt with both sides to move things forwards.  She was KNOWN for the fact that she would show up at hearings and such with an armload of data, all of which she had studied and knew inside and out.   She was, indeed,  a Policy Wonk (in the best possible way).   She came into the race with decades of  experience and knowledge of the ins and outs of dealing with and negotiating with,  people on the domestic and international scene.   She is known as a tough negotiator too,  which allowed her to push compromise where the two sides were at logger-heads.   Her work as Secretary of State had deepened her pool of understanding of the world situation. This,  by the by, is one reason why Putin worked so hard to the the donald elected.   He was terribly worried that she would take the Presidency,  and he knew he could not out-negotiate her!

 

 

     For me,  the real problem that kept her out of the Oval Office is that the American public are hypocrites,   not allowing their candidates to have mistakes or changes in stance,  and yet ignoring the huge list of their own screw-ups.    Add to that the misogyny of the voting public,  the meddling in the election by outside forces,  and the (possibly Unconstitutional) laws the states have passed forcing the Electoral College to a “Winner take all” rule…and it is little surprise  the  Republicans  were able to take the office…in spite of the results of the vote by ACTUAL CITIZENS!   Remember that the donald  only took the swing states by 75,000 votes or so – out of 63 MILLION cast,  so,  I suspect that if the Electors had not been “bound” by the “Winner take all” rule,   HRC would have gotten the majority of votes needed to take the Presidency.

 

 

 

     As for the Bernie supporters who still cling to the idea that if HE had been the candidate,  he would have won…I hope that gives you some comfort at night.  I disagree that he would have been an easy victory.   The Republicans had a HUGE file of dirt on him that goes back to his college days,  and would have used it with the same,  overblown rhetoric  that was used against HRC.   He would have been torn to shreds  by the tsunami of agenda-driven spin and lies from Russia.  Yes,  it is true that there are some Emails indicating that Wasserman-Schultz preferred HRC over Bernie.   Yet there STILL is no evidence that any of the suggested strategies were implemented.   In my own case,  I saw about as many HRC ads from PACs as I did Bernie ads.  It may be that many in the Democratic party looked upon Bernie with a questionable attitude because he has NEVER been a  Democrat.   He is and always will be an Independent,  Democratic Socialist.   Frankly,  that is a good thing,  and in  a way,  I wish that there were more like him in the Congress.   However,  his hooking his wagon to the Democratic Party was an attempt to hook into the pool of Democratic Voters  and so take the office.   That did not work as well as he would have liked…since several MILLION voters in the Primary voted for HRC over him.   I was not one of those.  I DID vote for Bernie in the Primary  for a variety of reasons.   For me,  it almost came down to a coin toss, though.   I looked at the two of them and was amazed that our Party had put forth TWO excellent and very qualified candidates.   That is why I DID vote for HRC in the General Election.

 

 

I agree that the Democratic Party needs to buckle down and start working together to be a force such as the Republicans.    People of good will can disagree over issues…but,  when push comes to shove,   we as progressives,  need to be able to compromise,  and to get behind ONE Candidate.   We must NOT be so self-centered that we pout about our favorite Candidate  not being chosen,  and either refuse to vote,  or write in his name,  or vote for a third party option that is worse than the Republican alternative.   Bite the bullet…work to change the Party…but without powerful representation,   we, and our goals as Citizens,  are irrelevant to the Republicans.   Look at what Mitch McConnell said after the donald’s victory.   He said “Winners get to make the rules.  Losers get to go home”.  That,  folks, is the draconian attitude of most Republicans.  They will dismiss our Liberal opinions and do their best to ride rough-shod over anything “Liberal” in the governmental and legal structure of the country.   Look at what they are doing now!   They are working as hard as they can to wipe out not only the legacy that President Obama left,  but, to roll back our society to where it was in the 1800s.   The Republicans of today seem to believe that the Television shows “Leave it to Beaver” and “The Andy Griffith Show”  are not situation comedies,  but, rather are documentaries of a lost way of life!   We,  as a group,  cannot wait for the Republicans to destroy themselves.  They are  perfectly happy to burn down the house with ALL of us locked in the living room.   We must look ahead…be sure to VOTE in the coming elections;  and look to the younger generation of Democrats to rise up and move us forward again.

 

 

God Help Us All

 

 

Bee Man Dave.

=-=-=-=-=

Powered by Blogilo

Posted in Ethics, General Thoughts, Humanity, Politics, Questionable decisions | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Other” – What Does This Mean?

Greetings and Salutations;
I recently wrote a short entry on the works of Ayn Rand, the philosophy of Objectivism that she created,  and, how this philosophy is the tap root that feeds the attitudes and actions of the  Republican Party.   For the leaders of the Party to succeed, they must ensure that their followers will be motivated to support the Party without question.   To achieve this goal,  the leaders of the Party  have worked very hard at keeping the followers of the Party  so fearful and distracted that,  even if they have the intellectual skills to look at the Party’s actions and words,  they remain distracted by the shiny things, smoke and mirrors  waved in front of them.   This ensures that the followers will not actually look at what the leaders are doing; make rational decisions about whether they support these actions; or understand how those actions will affect them, personally.  Rather,  they buy into the Party Line, and  vote for the Party no matter what arguments against such a vote are presented to them or evidence showing this is a bad idea is available..
.

“Tribalism”

My first topic in this article is “Tribalism.”  For as long as there has been life on the Earth,  related or similar creatures have  clustered together in exclusive groups.  This is true for almost every species from ants to humans.  There are benefits to this,  including better  protection against the dangers of the world,  an increased probability of finding and acquiring food,  and (once we  to the stages of individual, sexual reproduction)  finding a mate to perpetuate the group.  In the lower animals,  we call it herding,  being part of a pack, and similar terms.    When we reach the developmental level of the Human Animal,  we call it “Tribalism”     This grouping of people into tribes  is typically so deeply rooted in our instincts that it is usually automatic, and  invisible to us.   This happens in spite of the evidence available that shows that such exclusive grouping is NOT the best way of dealing with the world.    Throughout history, beginning with the earliest Hominids appearing on Earth,   groups  of people have gathered together and formed a Tribal Group,  for the above mentioned reasons.  A  MAJOR objective of the tribe is its own protection against attack and destructive violence (This instinctive need to protect the tribe was one of the roots of the appearance of “The Other”,  and often shows up in today’s world as an almost insane obsession with spending huge sums of money  on enlarging the Military.   More on this later).
.

“The Other”

.
Now,  let us look at the concept of “The Other“.  This concept is strongly rooted in “Tribalism” and,   is a basic tool used in  philosophical  and sociological schools which examine the broad range of ways that we,  as humans,  look upon and interact with other humans.  “The Other”  has a large  influence on our building of  a self-Image.    As we mature, everyone builds a self-image  that defines us to ourselves and to the world.   Much of that self-image is generated,  and re-enforced,  by a comparison with someone else –  “The Other”.     Early on in our path to maturity,  this creation and feeding of the Self-Image is powered by our demonstrating how they are less than we are…and thereby, building ourselves up.   We all do it to some extent:
  • My dress is a LOT more elegant and well cut than hers is (So I have better taste and fashion sense)
  • I  am the champion Quarterback on the Team (so the other Quarterbacks were losers)
  • I have been to College and have a Master’s Degree in English and a Doctorate in Astronomy (so this  guy working as a stock boy in Walmart must be an idiot);
  • I own the company and make a ton of money so I am much better than the losers that work for me
 Hopefully,  as we mature,  we disconnect our self-worth from how we compare to others,  and,  grow it
  1. by traveling and continuing to explore new areas of knowledge,  so as to expand our horizons
  2. by interacting with a more diverse group of people
  3. seeking  out new experiences
  4. adding to or increasing our skill set
  5. by self-study and understanding we achieve greater self-awareness.
On this,  more positive path,  we cease to look at “The Other”  and say “I am so much better than that loser”.   Alas, none of us achieve this goal to perfection,  but with luck, work, and an increased understanding of ourselves we can move towards it.
.
In the less developed members of  humanity,   “The Other” is looked upon with suspicion, and fear.   Since the survival of the The Tribe depended on its ability to gather sufficient food,  find a protected environment,  and reproduce safely,   any stranger that showed up was viewed with suspicion.  They were “The Other” – an unknown part of reality and the tribe would not have any idea if the stranger was here on a peaceful mission,  or was looking to take any, or all of their three parts of survival by force.   Today,  alas,  these same,  quite primitive instincts remain in place, and, too often, control our actions.  “Otherness” (as discussed Here ) takes many forms. The Other may be someone who is of…
  • a different race (White vs. non-White),
  • a different nationality (Anglo Saxon vs. Italian),
  • a different religion (Protestant vs. Catholic or Christian vs. Jew),
  • a different social class (aristocrat vs. serf),
  • a different political ideology (capitalism vs. communism),
  • a different sexual orientation (heterosexual vs. homosexual),
  • a different origin (native born vs. immigrant).
The primal and instinctive fears we still harbor within us  can be inflamed by invoking any of these “Othering”  factors.  Then,  the resulting emotions can be used to motivate followers to action,  and blind them to the results of those actions.   Let me take a moment to give some concrete examples from the current political world.
  1. During the campaign,  the donald undercut his opponents in the race to the Primary Election   by emphasizing their differences,  and by claiming that they were “Low Energy”, stupid,  or “Flip-Floppers” –  implying that his Republican opponents were old,  feeble, or untrustworthing,  and so unable to deal with the pressures of the Presidency.   For his one Female opponent,  he derided her for her appearance – saying with contempt that she was so ugly she could NOT possibly be considered to be presidential material.
  2. During the race to the General Election,   he exaggerated Sec. Clinton’s state of health, implying she was about to keel over dead at any moment;  He pushed the misogynistic view that it was impossible for a woman to be President;   He and his campaign staff would inflame the audience members at rallies to chant “Lock Her Up”,  in spite of the fact that after 40 years of investigations by his own party,  NO criminal acts had been uncovered.
  3. During the Campaign,  the donald said, over and over again,  that the ACA was failing,  was likely to disintegrate in a year or less,  and was a total failure.   He said  HIS plan was to cover all Americans with a better plan, and make Premiums go down quite a bit.  He also NEVER used the act’s real name –  The ACA – Rather he continually called it “ObamaCare.”  to appeal to the latent racism in the hearts of his followers.   This claim of his was, of course  a lie,  but by repeating it many times and being careful to avoid any questions on exactly HOW “his GREAT Plan”  was supposed to make these changes to the Health Insurance situation,  he distracted many Americans who were unhappy that their Premiums HAD gone up, and by connecting the ACA with “The Other”  of President Obama,   got their votes.
  4. During the campaign,  the donald KEPT pushing the theme of “Radical Islamic Terrorists” flooding into the country.  This, in spite of the fact that almost EVERY terrorist attack in America since the events of 2001/09/11  have been done by citizens of the country who have been radicalized by the war that George W. Bush dropped us into shortly thereafter,  or have nothing to do with Islam or the Middle East at all – being perpetuated by White Supremacists against people of color,  and the like.
  5. Throughout the campaign,   the Republicans in general,  and the donald in specific,  characterized the news media as “The Other”   There were unsubstantiated claims that they were lying about him.    He claimed that the responsible and ethical journalists were creating “Fake News” about him.   He even went so far as claim such falsehoods as this:
  6. “A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are — they are the enemy of the people,” Trump told the annual Conservative Political Action Conference  While praising some reporters as honest, and pledging fealty to the First Amendment, Trump claimed that “the fake news media doesn’t tell the truth.” He said reporters should not be allowed to use anonymous sources, and “we’re going to do something about it.”  These comments and many more like them over the past couple of years,  are an obvious attempt to make the Press into “The Other” –  A danger to America,  and to destroy their legitimate role in society as a watch dog of the government.

The Concept of The Other permeates other parts of society too.  The Black Lives Matter movement has been vilified since its beginnings with a variety of unsupported claims.   It was created when the institutional racism which has been growing in America for the past few decades reached a point that it appeared to the people of color in our society that it was open hunting season on them.   Having tried petitions and filing complaints about blatant racism exhibited by the government on all levels from the leaders down to the LEOs who seem to be the strike forces for that racism,  and had NO positive results from them,  people of color have taken to more energetic activism.   For this,  they have been peppered with claims of being Vandals whose only goal is to destroy businesses and loot them (in spite of the proven fact that only a tiny percentage of outside agitators in the crowds were doing this,  and a huge majority of the protestors were peaceably exercising their First Amendment Rights).   They are accused of raising a war against Whites or cops, in spite of the fact that they  NEVER say “Black Lives Matter More than Other Lives”.  They are  threatened and arrested when filming examples of police abuse of unarmed civilians,  in spite of the fact they are doing nothing wrong and are not interfering with the events.   They are called “Thugs”  and “Animals”  to the extent that many White folks automatically lock their doors when a person of color approaches their car.    The fact is that a vast majority of people of color are no different from you or me.   They are people of good will, who worry about their children, and try to teach them good values.  They are trying to do the best job at work they can,  because they take pride in doing a good job.

 

Yet…they are changed into the “Boogie Man” because the Republicans need an enemy  to focus the emotions of their followers on.   Look at the picture of the Black society in America as painted by the Republicans.    According to the donald,   all people of color live in inner city ghettos that are filthy,  deteriorating,  and filled with violence.   Added to that,  many Republicans portray them as parasites,  working only to get benefits from the Government,  so they can live the good life without working.   They portray them as sexually promiscuous,  producing many children they cannot afford to feed, and continually aborting inconvenient fetuses.   They are portrayed as criminals,  flooding the Perfect World of White America with drugs and prostitutes.

.

Another example of “The Other”  is the LGBTQ community in America.   Again,  the Republicans scream out unsubstantiated claims about them,  and,  almost every legislative body from states up to the Congress has passed or tried to pass laws which remove the basic rights for Citizens as laid out in the Constitution.   Some of these laws have taken root and are still there.  Most have been thrown out by the courts.   The current tempest that the Republicans are using to stir up their followers is the amazingly silly,  but emotional,  fears over which gender bathroom that TransGender folks use to relieve themselves.   The rhetoric on this is amazing,  as it is so far out of left field that one wonders what planet the folks that produce it live on.  There are a huge number of people who claim that if trans women are allowed in woman’s bathrooms,  they will sexually molest small children.   There are some who say that allowing this will enable sexual predators who are NOT Trans  to claim “To be women today”,  head into the bathroom,  and engage in perverted acts.   This view is unsupported by reality and has NEVER been shown to have any evidence of being the truth.   The fact is that Trans folks have been using the facilities next to Cis folks for hundreds of years,  without problems.    Yet…by invoking “The Other” as a danger, the Republicans rile up their followers,  build support and get votes.

.

The last example of “The Other” I will touch on here are the immigrants and migrant workers who enter America.   The Republicans have been painting every Refugee and immigrant that is not White as a possible terrorist.   They produce a continual drumbeat of fear over a flood of Muslim Terrorists slipping into the country and destroying our infrastructure, and society.   They  have pushed the idea of “Muslim Terrorist”  so hard that many of their followers believe that is one,  not two,  words.   There are approximately 1.7 billion Muslims in the world.   Less than 200,000 are the fanatical fundamentalists who are engaging in this (ultimately futile)  war to take their society back to a mythical time when the Caliphate ruled,  and all Muslims supported Religious Purity!

.

The fact is that,  since 2001/09/11,  there have been a few, fairly small  acts of terrorism,  but almost all of these were not perpetuated by immigrants,  but,  rather,  were by Citizens or legal residents of the country whose basic,  fundamentalist views of reality  had been inflamed and radicalized by the treatment of Muslims  in America since that day.

.

The issue of migrant workers is another use of The Other.   The Republicans  have, for as long as I can recall,   trumpeted how terrible these people who snuck into the United States to live and work are.   As the donald said in his FIRST speech when he stepped into the ring to run for the Office of President:

 When Mexico sends its people,  they are not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us.  They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

The bottom line is that the concept of “The Other” is a useful tool for the Republicans to keep their followers stirred up.   Their view of America is of a lily-white population,  and a society of bucolic peace rather like the fantasy presented in “The Andy Griffith Show”.   In order to achieve the goal of controlling their followers,  they, rather cynically,  use the concept of “The Other”  to give Americans an enemy – a Boogie Man – to hate and look upon as the Enemy of their culture.   Alas,  this is delusional on their part,  for a variety of reasons.

  • America has NEVER been a homogenous society.   it has always been a melting pot  from its origins with the Landing of the Pilgrims, until today.   The country is too big,  and too diverse to be the sort of society that much smaller countries,  such as Japan,  or Norway  exhibit.
  • They are blind to the fact that immigrants bring strength to the county,  and are NOT tearing it down.   Diversity is the best survival tool on Earth.   As a botanical  example of the importance of diversity,  let me tell this story.     Back about 40 years or so ago,  The Tennessee Valley Authority  wanted to perk up the park lands near one of their flagship dams,  so it would be more attractive to tourists.   So,  being a bureaucracy,  they had crews come in and plant hundreds of pine trees over the entire park.   This looked great for quite a while  as the saplings rapidly grew into large shade trees. But,  after a decade or so of growth,   we had a massive infestation of Pine Borer beetles.   They must have thought they were in heaven when they landed on the grounds around the dam,  as there was nothing there but pine trees.   Over a two year period,  the infestation killed off EVERY one of the pine trees.    Had the TVA paid attention to the forestry experts around the area,  they would have ended up with a mixed species forest that would have likely made it more difficult for the Pine Borers to survive – because the pine trees were far more scattered out –  and would have ensured that the appearance of the Reservation would not have been seriously impacted if the pine trees HAD been lost.
  • The fact of the matter is that the ACA, while it does have problems, was a huge step forwards for Americans.  It shielded them from many of the abusive treatments that the Health Care Insurance industry profited from in years past.   it  ended up getting 20 million Americans who had not had insurance before covered so they could have a net in case of catastrophe,  and,  could access preventative care – cutting the number of people in Crisis that showed up at the E.R.   The Republican alternative, as it is turning out,  essentially returns us to the bad old days of unregulated Industry,  promising to kick 24 million people off their coverage,  and likely causing rural hospitals to have to close their doors.   This is a moment where the folks that voted for the donald are getting a cold chill down their spine.  Many of them have just realized that the “Obamacare” they hated is the same package as the ACA – which is providing them with life-saving medications and treatments.  So…when the Obamacare goes away…they will be out in the cold again!   A perfect example of “The Other”  distracting the voters so they will not realize that light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train.
  • As I have pointed out earlier,  not all Muslims are insane,  fanatical fundamentalists;   all but a tiny percentage are living life just like everyone else,  trying to rear their children to be good people,  trying to keep food on the table,  and trying to keep danger and violence out of their lives.
  • Migrant workers do not come to America with the goal of putting Americans out of work.   They come here because even the crappy wages they are paid are much better than they can get in Mexico,  which allows them to live here, and still send money back home to help their families.   They come here as undocumented workers because there is a huge demand on the part of Americans for cheap labor to pick the produce,  clean the houses and hotels,   run the restaurants,  and build the buildings here.

What can we, as Liberals/Progressives do to fight  against this use of “The Other?”   That is a difficult question,  as I have demonstrated here,  the concept of “The Other”  is a basic instinct that cannot be eliminated.   However,  each of us DOES have the ability to look at these instinctive reactions,  and choose not to allow them to control us.   So,  I suggest that ways to help push back and keep the Republicans from exploiting this instinct include the following:

  1. Continue to be aware of the basic concept of “The Other” as a tool of control,  and look at every statement from a politician with care.
  2. Be aware of the images their words generate.   If it feels like those images are of faceless,  scary enemies…step back and do not accept what is being said without question.
  3. if you run into people on Social Media who are caught up in this madness…politely and calmly interact with them,  with the goal of confronting them with the truth,  in the hopes that this will bring them to see reality again.
  4. If they are ranting about “The Other” of the day – The Muslims,  folks from the LGBTQ community,  “Libtards”,  etc,   give it a shot.   However keep in mind that  sometimes there will be no “dialogue” or possibility of dialogue.  As I have pointed out elsewhere,   dealing with Right-Wingers who are caught up in that beau monde of delusion  can be frustrating  because they seem to be immune to facts.    In that case,  I suggest stating the truth,  and moving on.
  5. When you run across a person like this,  remember it is a waste of time and energy to attempt to argue with them,  as that is like playing chess with a pigeon.   The pigeon may always lose, but, it will just strut around  crapping on the board and knocking pieces off it,   and will claim to have won anyway.

God Help Us All!

 

Bee Man Dave

(A) http://anthro.palomar.edu/hominid/australo_1.htm  –  Early hominids (5.3 million years ago)
(B) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Other
(C) https://othersociologist.com/otherness-resources/   The concept of “Otherness” as it applies to the tribe,  and how it is often controlled by political movements.
(D) http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/cs6/other.html  The other as it applies to other tribal groups
(E) http://www.yiannisgabriel.com/2012/09/the-other-and-othering-short.html  The other and “Othering” – a short introduction
(F) http://www.academia.edu/5033172/The_Construction_of_the_Other_in_Saids_Orientalism_and_Fanons_Black_Skin_White_Masks
(G) http://bigthink.com/risk-reason-and-reality/how-tribalism-overrules-reason-and-makes-risky-times-more-dangerous

=-=-=-=-=
Powered by Blogilo

Posted in Ethics, General Thoughts, Humanity, Nuttiness, Politics, Questionable decisions | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment