Some Thoughts On Religion

Greetings and Salutations;

As has been true for thousands of years, one of the hot topics for discussion is religion. There are a number of very active groups on Facebook and other Social Media where passionate arguments happen.

I decided, finally, to see if I could codify where my beliefs lie at this point in my life, and, some issues that support, or argue against the value of “Religion” as a force in today’s society. This is a complicated subject, so I will apologize in advance for the length of the post!

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, and thought as a child. When I became a man, I put away childish things.

I grew up in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, which is one of the more Conservative branches of what Luther called “The Church of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession”. I was introduced to the stories of the Bible, and taught that we should respect others; that we should treat others as we would like to be treated; and, that Luther was a great man who had seen the best path to God. In this period, “God” was, in my mind, the more or less architypal image of this huge, Bearded Guy, sitting on an ornate throne, dispensing Wisdom and Justice. As often seems the case, the church, through the Sunday School teachers, passed along the message that anyone that was not Mo-Syn Lutheran was to be pitied, because they were doomed to end up in Hell, suffering Damnation and eternal torment. There was an odd ad-mixture of Law and Gospel in the teachings, too… While the lesson that Christ Died for us, to expiate our sins and allow us to enter Heaven was certainly an important part of that teaching, and, that works would do NOTHING to earn us a spot in Heaven, there was quite a burden of guilt laid upon us in the process. It was pointed out many times that every sin we participated in added to the Suffering of Christ. It was fairly simplistic, which is to be expected, when dealing with children.

Now, then, I do want to take a moment and say that it was not all Guilt, Gloom and Doom! The teachers did their best to make the stories in the Bible interesting, and engaging. They did this through getting us to talk about the challenges of herding ALL those animals onto the Ark; by imagining what it would be like to be stuck in the belly of a whale for days; challenging us to think about how WE would react if we found a guy, beaten up and laying beside the road, and the like. It was not deep, or reflective, examination of religion, but it was a decent introduction to basic concepts of how to treat each other and how to deal with the world.

It was as I approached the end of High School that the discussions started to become deeper and to wrestle with more complex aspects of religion. For example, it was in that time period that the whole issue of “Why do bad things happen to good people” came up. The flip answer, memorized by many charged with teaching us, and aiding our Spiritual Journey, was that “God allows bad things to happen to us because we need to learn a lesson”. It was a challenge to reconcile this with the concept of a God that loved us so much that He Sacrificed his only Son on our behalf. For some, this was the point that they turned away from God, and took another path. For others, it forced them to really wrestle with the concepts, and become stronger in faith. For many, alas, apathy took over, and they decided to ignore the Elephant In The Room.

Going to University was quite an experience for me, in a number of areas. As regards this essay, the important one was the fact that, for the first time, I met and spent time interacting with people who had significantly different faiths. Living in East Tennessee, the biggest issue I had faced up to that time was explaining to the Southern Baptists that “No, Lutheranism is NOT a cult….” The similarities in our belief systems far outweighed the differences. At the University, though, I had an “AH-Ha” moment, when I spoke to a Hindu, who, when I said I prayed regularly, said “Ah yes, I pray to my Gods TOO!” As time progressed, I interacted with and considered, the beliefs of folks ranging from atheists, who held a very strong belief that God did not exist, and anyone who believed in that nonsense was a fool; to Hindus, Followers of Islam, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons and a host of other views. It was that time period that really forced me to start looking, on a deep level, at what I believed, why I believed it, and what the positive and negative aspects of those beliefs were.

This period in University also rooted a strong desire to understand as much as I could, both about my own beliefs, and the philosophies of others. I continue to follow this path, through self-reflection, study, and discussion. One of the very positive aspects of Social Media is that it can provide a forum for people of various points of view and beliefs to meet, in a setting that is less prejudiced by “Social Norms” and engage in discourse about their beliefs and what they struggle with. I find it an interesting, stimulating, frustrating and insightful place to engage.

Now then…let me address the Bible for a moment. When I was a child, I believed that the Bible was a precise and accurate history of the world, and the events that happened in it. Now, though, not so much. After decades of wrestling with the issues, I have come to the conclusion that the Bible is an odd combination of fact and fiction. For examples of “facts”, I have no reason to believe that the Generations of Mankind, listed in the Old Testament, are not fairly accurate recordings of a family tree. I have dabbled in Genealogy, so, I have a fair understanding of both the accuracy of a family tree, and, how errors can creep into it. Since science has shown that in the history of Mankind on Earth, there have been some mighty floods, I accept that, in a general way, the story of Noah has some nuggets of truth in it. However, I have come to the belief that the Bible was not intended to be a collection of historical facts for our edification. Rather, it is mainly a collection of metaphors, allegories, and parables that focus on the important lessons of how we should or should NOT treat our fellow humans. It also provides some important lessons on types of societies that do not work.

Let us look at the last point for a moment. The Old Testament is a book of Laws, without Mercy. It has listing after listing of ways that people will transgress against Society, and details the rather draconian punishments for those transgressions. It was the Old Covenant between Man and God, and only by fulfilling the Laws in the Book would a person be pure enough to enter the Kingdom of God. Alas, since humans are far from pure, it was demonstrated that NO one could fulfill the Law sufficiently. We would ALL fall short of the standard set by God. This reminds me of a point of conflict that I had for decades with my father. I was always fascinated with making things; and taking things apart, to see how they worked. (And, I will say in passing that it was a great relief to my parents when I finally reached the stage where I could put things back together!) Well, this path always requires tools…and so, when I needed to do something, I would go grab a tool off Dad’s tool wall or his workbench in the shed, for the task. Alas, I was not particularly good at getting those tools back to their appointed place…so, until my early 20s, Dad only could see me as that little kid that always lost his tools. His Law was “use the tool, put it back where you got it”. However, at least from my point of view, being sent on a guilt trip for losing the tool was kind of draconian!

The New Testament is a book of Redemption, of understanding that Mercy is, in many cases, more important than Law. It was a New Covenant between God and mankind. It focuses not on the failure of people to live up to the Law, but, the Redemption, through Forgiveness, that helps us pick ourselves up, and with new understanding, move on to be better people.

Between these two types of Society…which seems the more productive and positive…and perhaps more importantly, which one would YOU like to live in?

In my view, much of the Old Testament is devoted to examples of how we should NOT treat our fellow humans…and the New Testament is a goal for us to aspire towards, and to work as hard as we can to achieve. The lessons in the Old Testament are important, but, should not be considered to be the controlling factor in the world of the Christian.

There are a fair number of folks who decry religion, saying that it is obsolete, or simply a tool to program the masses and control them. Sadly enough, there is some truth to this. I look at some of the groups that claim to be “Christian”, and I see a group of people who are perverting Religion and the Bible, to push their own agenda. They cherry-pick verses out of the Bible to support their point of view. They misinterpret or add meanings to the verses they extract, to ensure the words support their agenda. In doing so, they destroy the good that Religion can do, and amplify the Evil…causing more people to look upon the concept of Religion with suspicion. I often see their claims, and find them without merit, because one cannot base a valid argument on invalid premises…and that is exactly what they are doing.

There are far too many folks who firmly believe that their particular belief is the only “True Belief” and so they have a lock on God. Alas, this is extreme hubris. I came to the conclusion quite some decades ago that God was so far beyond our understanding that it was quite likely that there was more than one path to It. I have, in the past, compared the difference in understand between man and God with the comprehension that an ant would have of a human… I also rather enjoy pointing people at the old fable of the blind men, trying to understand what an Elephant looks like. Each of the men in this story is accurate in his observation, yet, totally out in left field about the whole. That having been said….do I believe that “All paths lead to God”? No, I do not. It is more like driving through hilly countryside, attempting to reach a mountain we can see in the distance. We cannot see the entire path, and, more often than not, without guidance, the road we are on may take us further away from our goal!

I am going to take a moment to talk about the issue of “Free Will” that mankind has. I alluded to it in the previous paragraph, and it is an important part of one’s spiritual journey, I believe. Wherever it came from, mankind as the right to choose one of two paths. We can choose a path of Life, and positive action, where we give and receive good things as we journey along. Alternatively, we can choose a path of Darkness…being greedy, unethical, and taking from others while never giving back anything. Either life choice has consequences, and, (assuming a Christian Point of view), neither will ensure our return to, and welcome by God. However, our choices DO reflect our character. In the book of James, it says “Faith, without works, is dead”. Some people interpret this to mean that by works we prove we have faith, and so get brownie points with God. We, Lutherans, in general, look at it differently. Luther made the point that it was our Faith that created a flow of energy that would demonstrate itself in the actions we involved ourselves in. If, for example, we were in a positive place, we would help others, take on tasks without complaint, etc. If we were in a negative place, as mentioned before, our actions would be darker.

In my spiritual journey and maturing, I have spent some time studying various religions and philosophies. I have yet to find one that does not, to some extent fit well into my world view. In general, they are a tool for humans to deal with reality in a more positive fashion; or, to come to a deeper understanding of their minds and beliefs. We are an imperfect creation, and so many of our paths are rather winding, and often end up in the weeds. Yet, the end goal – to be a “Better Person” is still there. I believe that is an important point that is sometimes buried in the complications and chaos of life these days. I, for one, would like to see a broader, and more inclusive view of all people, based on the NEW Testament principles, become the rule of thumb for Christians. As for other religions, who include similar beliefs, focus on the positive and inclusive lessons of YOUR belief system. Let us all strive to become more insightful about ourselves, and more mindful of others.

God Help Us All

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Ethics, Family, General, Humanity, Nuttiness, Observations, Questionable decisions, Ruminations | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sifting through the Ashes, Part 17

Greetings and Salutations;

The debacle that is the current administration continues to sink into the cesspool. The POOO is continuing to get more and more frantic in his attempts to divert attention away from his malfeasance. Counsel Mueller continues to ignore him, and issue indictments, and convict members of his administration.

The FB group, “Balance of Power” had a very well written discussion of the British view of our country and why they do not care for the POOO…..I quote it here, as it deserves further views.

“A few things spring to mind.

Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.

For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace – all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.

So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing – not once, ever.

I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility – for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is – his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.

And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults – he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.

Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront.

Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.

And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist.

Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that.

He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat.

He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.

That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead.

There are unspoken rules to this stuff – the Queensberry rules of basic decency – and he breaks them all. He punches downwards – which a gentleman should, would, could never do – and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless – and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority – perhaps a third – of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think ‘Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:
* Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.
* You don’t need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.

After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shiat. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.

In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish:

‘My God… what… have… I… created?

If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.”

-Nate White

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Sifting through the ashes, Part 16

Greetings and Salutations;

An interesting conversation arose on FaceBook today,  and motivated me to write this entry.    A person I was discussing politics with (yes,  I know that is a tightrope),  had this to say to explain how he felt about Hillary Clinton:

Many reasons. She’s unlikable, dishonest, covered for her rapist husband, filthy rich on a politicians wage, can’t relate, never accomplished anything, has ties to multitudes of unsavory friends, her and Bill are probably the unluckiest couple in the world to be friends or business associates with, she felt entitled to the office, she has flip-flopped on all the important issues, she constantly passed out on the campaign trail, she’s a bitch to her security detail, she ripped off the Haitians, her non-profit is a huge scam, her fake laugh, I could go on and on and finally, she couldn’t beat trump.

I thought I would address these points directly..

1) “She’s unlikable…her fake laugh” – Why, I wonder, should this be a factor? My focus is on other things that I consider more important. For example, her qualifications. We all know her long list of offices she has worked in during her career. When she was in Congress, she was very respected as a policy wonk, showing up to meetings and hearings with a stack of paperwork, and having a deep understanding of the issues at hand. An aspect of this, too, is the question of “does she have the strength to control the government and deal with foreign leaders” As for that, she was the ONLY candidate in the 2016 election that actually scared Putin. It is no wonder he fought her election as hard as he could. Now then, to get back to the original objection. It is often true that great leaders are not likable people. They are called on to make difficult decisions, and often the path they chose is not a happy one for many folks. It may be best for the country, but, it is optically bad. Also, there is the fact that we rarely see the real personality of a politician. Secretary Clinton wears a strong game face, yet reports from people who meet her off the arena report that that she is a warm, caring and fun person.

2) “Dishonest”. Now one is honest, so why should or could we expect more from our politicians. Now, according to objective fact checkers during the 2016 election campaign, she was at or near the top of the list at producing truthful, and evidence based statements. As I recall, at least 55% of her pronouncements were absolutely true. In comparison the POOO was down in the teens – a place that he has stayed even after two years of sitting in the Oval Office.

3) “Covered for her rapist husband”. That is certainly claimed, but, on further explorations, it seems that the hard shell tactics people claimed she used were exaggerated at best, and a lie at worst. Speaking of family values, In spite of a terrible betrayal by Bill, she and he found a way to work through it, and remain a family. That is far better than many politicians do these days.

4) “filthy rich on a politicians wage” Hardly a valid argument, since politicians make more per year than many Americans. Also, she and Bill get premium payments for their speeches. That, to me, is capitalism succeeding – she is making a lot of money by using the reputation and knowledge she has gained through the years.

5) ‘can’t relate, never accomplished anything, has ties to multitudes of unsavory friends” These, alas, are simply without merit. There is no truth the first two, and, as to her friends…again, are all YOUR friends Angels? I would bet that if I looked in detail at anyone’s life, I could find some pretty unsavory friends….

6) “her and Bill are probably the unluckiest couple in the world to be friends or business associates with” This appears to be based on debunked stories about mysterious deaths. Not the DEBUNKED part of the comment.

7) “she felt entitled to the office” Show me a politician who does not feel this way. This is akin to saying that she is a bad person for being just like everyone else in the game!

8) ‘she has flip-flopped on all the important issues” This argument lacks merit for a couple of reasons. First off, “All” makes it meaningless. Secondly, yes, she has changed her position on a number of important issues. However, unlike many politicians, she has owned the fact that she was wrong before, and, had changed her mind after receiving more and better data on the issue. Would we, as a country, want a politician in charge who simply changes their minds randomly, with no data or thought? Well, perhaps we would, since the POOO is exactly that. I, though, for one, would prefer a person in charge who can recognize when they are wrong, and are willing to change their position.

9) “she constantly passed out on the campaign trail” This is simply a lie. There was ONE episode where she got wobbly, because she was ill and had gotten dehydrated.

10) “she’s a bitch to her security detail” She is a strong-willed person, and, frankly, no different from any other politician in the game. I am sure that EVERY president and presidential candidate has blown up at their security detail while they had them. However, on than one report from one person, I never saw a vast flood of objections to her way of treating the security folks. Also, I wonder…afterwards, did she do something to apologize to them for being testy? That sort of news does not sell papers, so it is unlikely to be reported.

11) “she ripped off the Haitians” This is simply a lie.

12) “her non-profit is a huge scam” Another lie. The Clinton foundation is highly rated by Charity Navigator and other independent monitoring organizations. It is also a fact that while the Clintons have poured millions of their money into the Foundation, they have not taken a penny out for their own use. This, by the way, is a notable contrast with the current administration and the Trump Foundation.

13) “she couldn’t beat trump” this is without merit. The fact is that she DID beat the POOO, gathering 3 million more popular votes than him. However, he took the office because the Right-Wing has manipulated the system so as to give them an advantage in the Electoral College. They have done this with two major tools – the “Winner take all” laws, and the “unfaithful Elector” laws. The former artificially boosts the votes to a candidate, and the latter threatens the Electors with fines and prison time if they do not vote for the people’s choice. As for these two factors, I point you to Hamilton’s exposition in Federalist Papers #68, where he lays out very clearly the job of the Electoral College. Comparing what Hamilton wrote with the 2016 election shows a clear example of how the College has been broken.    Here is a link to Federalist Papers #68

So, after looking at these objections, I see nothing more than a series of invalid, Right-Wing talking points, and spew from the Russian Bots that influenced Social Media in the 2016 election.

God help our Country
Bee Man Dave

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What it means to be “Liberal”

The following post showed up on my Face Book thread today,  and, Mr. Allen (The author)  makes just good points that I thought I would repost it here.

The current political climate is so extreme it means that the Right-Wing folks demonize everyone who is not in their camp.   It is more examples of the concept of “The Other”   which I have written about before on this blog.

This demonization is making it impossible to function as a society, and can, in the long run,  destroy us.   We MUST fight against this.   How do we do this? I suggest  we take the comments below to heart,  and remember that WE are fighting for all citizens,  not just the 1%  at the top of the economic scale.   Do not allow opinions based on lies, or prejudice,  stand without challenging them.    Let your elected officials know what they are doing right, and doing wrong.   Do it politely, and with courtesy.    Finally, perhaps most importantly….VOTE!   Make sure you vote in every election.   Urge those around you to vote.   If you can,  help people bypass the barriers built against voting, and get them to the polls.


“An open letter to friends and family who are shocked to discover I’m a liberal… I’ve always been a liberal, but that doesn’t mean what a lot of you apparently think it does.
Let’s break it down, shall we? Because quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of being told what I believe and what I stand for. Spoiler alert: Not every liberal is the same, though the majority of liberals I know think along roughly these same lines:
1. I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected. Period.
2. I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Somehow that’s interpreted as “I believe Obamacare is the end-all, be-all.” This is not the case. I’m fully aware that the ACA has problems, that a national healthcare system would require everyone to chip in, and that it’s impossible to create one that is devoid of flaws, but I have yet to hear an argument against it that makes “let people die because they can’t afford healthcare” a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. And no, I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.
3. I believe education should be affordable and accessible to everyone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I’m mystified as to why it can’t work in the US), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt.
4. I don’t believe your money should be taken from you and given to people who don’t want to work. I have literally never encountered anyone who believes this. Ever. I just have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating this. Somehow believing that makes me a communist.
5. I don’t throw around “I’m willing to pay higher taxes” lightly. If I’m suggesting something that involves paying more, well, it’s because I’m fine with paying my share as long as it’s actually going to something besides lining corporate pockets or bombing other countries while Americans die without healthcare.
6. I believe companies should be required to pay their employees a decent, livable wage. Somehow this is always interpreted as me wanting burger flippers to be able to afford a penthouse apartment and a Mercedes. What it actually means is that no one should have to work three full-time jobs just to keep their head above water. Restaurant servers should not have to rely on tips, multibillion-dollar companies should not have employees on food stamps, workers shouldn’t have to work themselves into the ground just to barely make ends meet, and minimum wage should be enough for someone to work 40 hours and live.
7. I am not anti-Christian. I have no desire to stop Christians from being Christians, to close churches, to ban the Bible, to forbid prayer in school, etc. (BTW, prayer in school is NOT illegal; *compulsory* prayer in school is – and should be – illegal). All I ask is that Christians recognize *my* right to live according to *my* beliefs. When I get pissed off that a politician is trying to legislate Scripture into law, I’m not “offended by Christianity” — I’m offended that you’re trying to force me to live by your religion’s rules. You know how you get really upset at the thought of Muslims imposing Sharia law on you? That’s how I feel about Christians trying to impose biblical law on me. Be a Christian. Do your thing. Just don’t force it on me or mine.
8. I don’t believe LGBT people should have more rights than you. I just believe they should have the *same* rights as you.
9. I don’t believe illegal immigrants should come to America and have the world at their feet, especially since THIS ISN’T WHAT THEY DO (spoiler: undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all those programs they’re supposed to be abusing, and if they’re “stealing” your job it’s because your employer is hiring illegally). I’m not opposed to deporting people who are here illegally, but I believe there are far more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than our current practices (i.e., detaining children, splitting up families, ending DACA, etc).
10. I don’t believe the government should regulate everything, but since greed is such a driving force in our country, we NEED regulations to prevent cut corners, environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods or medical equipment, etc. It’s not that I want the government’s hands in everything — I just don’t trust people trying to make money to ensure that their products/practices/etc. are actually SAFE. Is the government devoid of shadiness? Of course not. But with those regulations in place, consumers have recourse if they’re harmed and companies are liable for medical bills, environmental cleanup, etc. Just kind of seems like common sense when the alternative to government regulation is letting companies bring their bottom line into the equation.
11. I believe our current administration is fascist. Not because I dislike them or because I can’t get over an election, but because I’ve spent too many years reading and learning about the Third Reich to miss the similarities. Not because any administration I dislike must be Nazis, but because things are actually mirroring authoritarian and fascist regimes of the past.
12. I believe the systemic racism and misogyny in our society is much worse than many people think, and desperately needs to be addressed. Which means those with privilege — white, straight, male, economic, etc. — need to start listening, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, so we can start dismantling everything that’s causing people to be marginalized.
13. I am not interested in coming after your blessed guns, nor is anyone serving in government. What I am interested in is sensible policies, including background checks, that just MIGHT save one person’s, perhaps a toddler’s, life by the hand of someone who should not have a gun. (Got another opinion? Put it on your page, not mine).
14. I believe in so-called political correctness. I prefer to think it’s social politeness. If I call you Chuck and you say you prefer to be called Charles I’ll call you Charles. It’s the polite thing to do. Not because everyone is a delicate snowflake, but because as Maya Angelou put it, when we know better, we do better. When someone tells you that a term or phrase is more accurate/less hurtful than the one you’re using, you now know better. So why not do better? How does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person?
15. I believe in funding sustainable energy, including offering education to people currently working in coal or oil so they can change jobs. There are too many sustainable options available for us to continue with coal and oil. Sorry, billionaires. Maybe try investing in something else.
16. I believe that women should not be treated as a separate class of human. They should be paid the same as men who do the same work, should have the same rights as men and should be free from abuse. Why on earth shouldn’t they be?
I think that about covers it. Bottom line is that I’m a liberal because I think we should take care of each other. That doesn’t mean you should work 80 hours a week so your lazy neighbor can get all your money. It just means I don’t believe there is any scenario in which preventable suffering is an acceptable outcome as long as money is saved.
So, I’m a liberal.” – Written by Larry Allen

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America….a LAND of Immigrants!

Greetings and Salutations;

I was poking around on FaceBook earlier,  and ran across this post.    It should be required reading for ALL Americans,  I think.   It is by John Blumenthal  Thank you Mr. Blumental for a brief  but insightful analysis of the mindset of America these days.

Dear Immigrant-hating Assholes.

By now maybe one of you, the one who isn’t illiterate, has read Stephen Miller’s uncle’s op-ed about his nephew’s immigration hypocrisy. There’s more where that came from. Laura Ingraham’s grandparents fled from Poland; Fox News was started by an Aussie. Sean Hannity’s grandparents were Irish. Jonas Salk, who is the reason you don’t have polio, was raised by parents who escaped from Eastern Europe; Afraid of the “War on Christmas”? Russian immigrant Irving Berlin, a Jew, wrote the appropriately named “White Christmas,” not to mention “God Bless America”.

Can’t live without your smartphone—Steve Jobs’ father was a Syrian refugee; Enjoy the convenience of ATMs? Offer your gratitude to Luther George Simjan, a refugee from Armenian genocide. Google? Invented by Russian Sergey Brin; Can’t live without blue jeans—Levi Strauss, German immigrant. Hot dog on a roll—James Feltman, German. Glad you don’t have to live in the dark—give a pat on the back to Thomas Edison, from Nova Scotia. Grateful that the Nazis didn’t win WW II—say hello in 3 languages to Enrico Fermi (Italian), Albert Einstein (German), Niels Bohr (Danish), to name a few.

One of your kids born prematurely? He or she may be alive because of Peruvian Claudio Castillón Lévano who invented the Neonatal Artificial Bubble that improves the intensive care of high-risk newborns. Glad you have color TV? Say hello to Hispanic immigrant Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena who invented the color television system. And you can all thank the many American scientists of foreign lineage who have either won Nobel Prizes or contributed to scientific discovery that may save or have saved your life.

Got money in the bank? Thank Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the Caribbean who invented our banking system, and might have been, at least partially, a person of color. Most African Americans were not technically immigrants because the vast majority didn’t come here on purpose. Nevertheless, they deserve our tribute too: Alice Ball discovered a cure for leprosy; Ophthalmologist Patricia Bath invented ultrasound; Otis Boykin, heart pacemaker; Samuel Kountz, pioneer in kidney transplantation, Garrett Morgan, the gas mask.

And I’m not even going mention the contributions made by immigrants and their descendants in American sports, entertainment, the arts and politics or we’ll be here all night.

Oh, and in case you misguided racist yahoos don’t know, your idiot president’s grandparents emigrated from Germany; Pence’s grandparents were Irish.

And what have you invented lately, you bigoted morons, other than the Ku Klux Klan costume, a real work of genius.

If you’re four.

God Help Us All!
Bee Man Dave
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Are All white people racist?

Greetings and Salutations.

I just read an interesting article on Slate,  with the thesis that “Yes,  ALL White people are racist”.    I thought it interesting enough to discuss the article a bit…

Here is the article


While this article is not totally without merit, it seems pretty shaky to me. Here is why.

1) I checked the PRRI website, and, as of yet, have not found the study the author is referencing. The closest I could approach it is this poll and analysis:  Which comes to some rather different conclusions.

2) the article, as presented, reminds me of the old aphorism “There are none so fanatical as a reformed sinner”. Assuming that the study he references exists, then, he has lept from “about half” to “ALL white people” are racist and privileged. This is one of the quickest ways to lose a rational debate that I know of!

I did search out this analysis that still does not support his thesis…but looks at how prejudice affected Pres. Obama’s election

I am not saying that humans do not harbor prejudice. That is as old as the hills in the psyche of humans. I wrote an essay about the concept of “The Other” here and have some additional essays dealing with this  in the Blog too.

I am reminded of the story from the 70s, of the assistant director of the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation. In an interview, he said he used to be heavily into the White Supremacy movement…Skin Head, Combat Boots….violently racist attitudes…the whole package. Then, one day, at a pause in the activities at a Supremacist rally, as the chants calling for killing people of color, or shipping them back to Africa died down, he had a disconcerting thought. What would they do if they got their way, and America was Lily White? He looked at his buddy, and asked the question…and said “What do we do then?” His buddy, with the fire of racism and hate still a bonfire behind his eyes, said “Don’t worry about it…there is always someone to hate!”

The young man looked around, and realized that he was one of the few dark haired people in the rally…and the revelation came to him…”It could be ME that is the next target!”

In fairly short order he had severed ties with the White Supremacist groups, and had moved on to join the Nazi hunters at the Foundation.

He made a point in this interview that changed my view of reality, too…and is with me today. He said…”We ALL have prejudice in our heart. The important thing is to understand this, and not let it control our actions.”


God help us all!

Bee Man Dave

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The Shining City On the Hill

Greetings and Salutations;

I ran across a very sad post on Facebook a bit ago,  and was moved to reply to it.   Perhaps I am too optimistic…but in these days of political madness and Evil,  I think that Optimism may be our only hope.

Preston Wigfall Calvin Kirk on this and this alone I agree with you. As you so adroitly illustrate.. absent social media… Americans would be no smarter. They would be no better informed and they would be just as racist and xenophobic. The Russians exploited American weaknesses that the entire world is aware of… QUERY: When EXACTLY was America GREAT? Name the time period that you and your ilk wish to return… I’ll wait..

Here is my reply

Preston Wigfall

America has always been a complicated and contradictory place. We are, as a country, still mewling infants, and some of us realize that.

We are a population ranging from the people who hate education so much that they cling to their ignorance as if it were a comforting teddy bear, to some of the best and most highly educated minds in the world.

We range from a homophobia so great that it moves people to violence at the very hint of it, to some of the most accepting and tolerant people one could wish to deal with.

America was unique in that it was founded on the principles of many cultures coming together, and becoming greater than the sum of its parts. The fact that a person who was the poorest of the poor, or, the most oppressed in their home country could come here, and become rich, or become a respected leader, has puzzled the rest of the world for most of our history. It is nearly unique in the world.

Overall, I would agree..America has never been truly “Great”…but over the years, American has done some truly great things. We struggle with becoming that “Shining city on the Hill” which is the Utopian Ideal we were founded on. In the past, we have made great strides towards that goal. Today, we are reminded how fragile that progress can be. We are building a spun-glass bridge here, and, the efforts of one, malicious vandal can smash much of its beauty.

There are many Citizens here who are horrified that the tiny percentage of Barbarians who have managed to manipulate themselves into power, are destroying decades of progress. If we were a different place, there would have already been a palace coup, and the military would be running the country… However, we are struggling to follow the root of our society, The Constitution, and stick to being a society of Law, not Man.

I do not know what the future will bring, but, I pray that we will, very soon, wake up, and realize the road of madness and destruction we are on, take action, and change our path. It will take decades to rebuild that which has been lost. It is very unlikely that I will live long enough to see America get close to where it was a few years ago. But, I pray that I will see that momentum start, and I work to encourage the Citizens who have lost hope, to stand up and vote, and do what they can to stop the madness.

God Help Us All!
Bee Man Dave
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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

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Declawing Cats, Part 2

Greetings and Salutations.

This is a follow up to my Previous Post on Declawing.   This is really important, so I had to add this post.

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…

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.

Because this barbaric policy still continues,  I have added another entry discussing this practice, and the problems associated with it.

God Help Us All!

Bee Man Dave

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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”

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


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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

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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.
God help us all
Bee Man Dave

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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

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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,   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.  <UPDATE>   after several years of pestering folks about the art,  the ONLY thing I am fairly sure is that it may have Native American influences,  but, the general opinion is that it is NOT the work of a Native American Artisan. </UPDATE>
  • There is a leather tab woven into it,  with a logo on it that might help identify the artist…but no luck so far!  <UPDATE>  This image by the way,  is “sideways”.  The leather signature tag actually hangs vertically,  with the left side of the picture here,  up.   </UPDATE>
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 or  art historian,  specializing in Woven Art,  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 Cloth Art.   It certainly brings a bright spot of pleasure to MY  world, at least!   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

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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

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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

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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

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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:
    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

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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

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