Sunday, November 16, 2014

NO REST FOR THE WICKED.

My mother and her sisters, my aunts, always left little quotes at the bottom of their letters and cards. It was always fun to read them. And, my mother was full of homey homilies like, No rest for the wicked, or Itchy palm? You're going to get some money; Cold feet, warm heart; Itchy nose? You are going to meet a stranger; Always eat a little sour with your sweet; Waste not want not.

Her sayings came so automatic, kind of a mixture of advice, superstition, moral admonitions. Who knows where they came from?  It was just a part of her personality. I miss her so much.

I chose the title because I'm so busy, super busy, I feel like the fox chasing his tail.

I'll be absent these pages, off and on while I take a trip into the Bay Area working on a fundraiser for the archive. And, another trip to Oregon for a walk through on the house my son is building for me that will be wheelchair assessable. Then it is time to get ready for Thanksgiving that I'm hosting at my house.  So...

MY FEET

My Feet they haul me Round the House,
They Hoist me up the Stairs;
I only have to Steer them, and
They take me Everywheres!

This little ditty is by Gelett Burgess and I can think of a half-dozen verses to add to it to describe my life right now, but I'll let it go at that.  Maybe some of you can add some verses if you are so inclined. This one is in the public domain and does not require permission.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

E.O. WILSON, EVOLUTION BIOLOGIST.

E. O.Wilson believes the only way to prevent mass extinctions, especially when we think of very large predators declining and struggling, is to provide enough habitat for them to move around.  Animals trapped in small spots without the ability to live like they lived in the wild, isn't working very well. Yes, they are alive, but not flourishing.
He believes the only way to stave off a mass extinction crisis, as devastating as the one that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, is to set aside half the planet as permanently protected area for the other ten million species. Half Earth. Half for us, half for them. This idea has been circulating among conservationists for some time.

BUT HOW?
He suggests a chain of uninterrupted corridors forming with twists and turns, some opening up wide enough to accommodate national biodiversity parks, a new kind of park that won't let species vanish.These would be wild land chains of long landscapes. Some would run North and South, like the western initiative known as Yellowstone-to-Yukon.
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Instead of just Yellowstone-to-Yukon, that corridor could be expanded to reach Mexico.
This will let wildlife move north as things warm up and those that run east-west may have the benefit of letting wildlife move east , away from the west, which in the future may not see as much rain. We would be enveloped and surrounded by connecting corridors so that you are almost never far from  a national park, or a landscape that leads to a national park.

We already have some partial corridors like the bison ranch in Montana and the Appalachian Trail in the east. The Piney woods echo system in the American Southwest. If we build on them and work at it we can convert the earth in half a century to a "Half Planet."
Near Freeport Florida, a man by the name of M.C. Davis, using his own money, is buying up land and removing intruders and planting longleaf pines to extend that habitat into a corridor. The longleaf pine forest once covered 90 million acres, a 1,200 mile stretch across nine states. There are 3 million acres left, worse than the losses of coral reefs.  He has begun a corridor to connect his lands with a protected longleaf forest. He believes to save the Florida black bear, the gopher tortoise and other threatened species, they have to have room to move around.  If you protect a few, and when they eat to much of their habitat, you kill them off so they don't overpower their habitat, you simply control them. They aren't free and they need to be. Davis's habitat project also saves and encourages regeneration of cypress trees. What he is accomplishing is huge and can be done if enough people get behind it.
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Sound impossible?  Only if you don't think big. Roosevelt electrified the world when he declared our country set aside land of great beauty, to remain undeveloped so all could share it, a National Park, a shared treasure.  No other country had done that before. Some people thought it was stupid and crazy. We now know what a favor he did us.

The map above shows Eglln Air Force Base as a possible conversion to a National Habitat Park. Nokuse Plantation is what Davis bought up and is preserving as longleaf protection. And above Elglin Air base is a series of State Forests. Why not form a corridor of major protection for plants and animals from Nokuse,, include Eglin, to Blackwater River State Forest?

And in the East, also a good start. Joining protected land with partnerships with owners connected to that land and insuring links to continual forest for other  species to roam.
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If we don't think big and get started, will we be sorry we didn't try to save the marvelous natural heritage we have?
Should we do nothing and watch it all degrade and disappear?

I hold my place as a backyard preserve. I promise not to spray and to provide water for animals and birds. We can help, one back yard at a time. It is truly amazing to watch nature work in balance around you.And, we can promote and support E.O. Wilson's "Half Planet" idea.

Friday, November 14, 2014

RETURN OF THE PRIUS

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On June 12th, I got slammed, gently, me at seven mph, her moving into me from a stop sign, but the insurance wanted to total my vehicle. It took a long fight and several mishaps, as in the body shop closed that was scheduled to fix my car; a new bid required and so on.
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Finally, I got my car back in time to take Jim to the Palo Alto Vets, Wednesday and Thursday.
The Kia rental zipped right along, with doors that sounded and felt like tin. I had very poor vision out the back window. The trunk was miniscule. I felt insecure in it. I’m glad to have my trusty, heavier Toyota Prius back on the road again.
 Jim has one more short appointment for his eyes and he is finished. We left yesterday with a test of 20/20 vision in both eyes. Pretty good for 74 years old.

While at the hospital, I read the unbelievable story of a man who has a plan to turn half the earth to its natural state. Sound unbelievable?  I thought so too. But, E.O. Wilson has already started. He teamed with a scientist who also believes it can be done. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

VETERANS DAY

According to my calendar, today is actually Veterans Day, though yesterday was celebrated as such, with many companies giving the day off from work. A nice respite for veterans and those who honor them with public accolades, speeches and parades. We all have friends or relatives who are veterans and these days its easier to use electronic media to wish them well and thank them for their service. But, it would be nice to take an active part in protecting them from predatory lenders. This advice comes from Public Citizen.

We honor the sacrifices made by servicemen and servicewomen, but being ripped off by predatory lenders — many of whom prey specifically on residents of military bases — should NOT be among our veterans’ sacrifices.
The Department of Defense has the authority to rein in the unpatriotic predators who gouge service members.

Service members are targeted by “payday” lenders because military rules require them to maintain good finances, but the realities of service — such as sudden relocations to different parts of the country — often result in unanticipated expenses.

Meanwhile, forced arbitration clauses buried in the fine print of the terms for these high-interest (as in 500 percent) loans mean that our troops are denied their right to a day in court.

The Military Lending Act is supposed to protect service members from banking abuses. The sad truth is that industry lobbyists poked loopholes in the 2007 law that are big enough to drive an armored personnel carrier through.

Now, the DoD is working to close these loopholes — and is accepting comments from the public for a limited amount of time.

Add your name to Public Citizen’s comment urging the Department of Defense to stop predatory lenders who prey on our armed forces. Click here: http://action.citizen.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12622

Thank you,
Rick Claypool
Public Citizen’s Online Action Team
action@citizen.org

Monday, November 10, 2014

THE NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION MAFIA.

I didn’t vote for Bill Clinton the first time, but I did the second time. And his mid-term elections were similar to those of Reagan, Bush, and Obama. He didn’t win a majority.

Clinton had the type of personality to get both parties to agree to compromises that best served the people of this country.

I’ve read several different amounts of the deficit that Reagan left after his presidency, one source on the internet says  3 Trillion, but the charts are difficult to read. A sure figure is a recorded 290 billion high in 1993. Clinton balanced the budget and spent surpluses of 2.3 trillion for Social Security, and 550 billion for Medicare.

In five years, the Clinton Budget brought America into balance, increased investment in education by 20 percent, including the largest increases in college aid  since the GI Bill. He cut spending in hundreds of superfluous programs, provided targeted middle class tax relief, including a $500-per child tax credit, provided insurance for five million uninsured children, respite care for families caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, and, for the first time, mammograms for older women under medicare. He produced the  Family Leave Act for working parents,  a huge boost for working parents. He brought over site to Child Care institutions so abuses would not be covered up by demanding licensing and state inspections.

He produced the Paycheck Fairness Act, The Brady Bill, and Gun Control of some automatic weapons. He delivered a promise with twenty million new jobs, the lowest unemployment rate and smallest welfare rolls in thirty years, the lowest crime rate in twenty-five years, put 100,000 new police on the streets, cut and maintained the smallest federal workforce in forty years, the first back-to-back (three years of surpluses) in fifty years, seven years of declining teen pregnancies and a 30 percent increase in adoptions and 150,000 young people who served in his AmeriCorps.  He Passed the hate crimes bill, the Employment Non Discrimination Act, and tried to pass a bill to allow gays to serve openly in the military. He settled for don’t ask, don’t tell.

He poured money into our National Parks that were badly degraded. He corrected old injustices by awarding the Medal Of Honor to 22 Japanese American Soldiers who served while their families were interned in camps. He funded the Save America’s Treasures Act, when it was brought to his attention that an old Civil War soldiers home was deteriorating. a place President Lincoln used as a summer home.

Clinton reversed thee downward spiral in international affairs and went to countries that had never been visited by a representative of the United States, let alone a President.

A Japanese television company was closing and Clinton called them and said what would it take to keep you in business? Sell more tv sets.

Clinton talked to Sam Walton of Walmart and they agreed to carry 100,000 of those televisions in their store and the company stayed open and the jobs were saved. He went to Sam twice and turned things around because of Walmart’s great marketing power. At that time Walmart had retirement for their employees, as well. When Sam died, all that fell by the wayside. He didn’t do it alone, it required the cooperation of the Republican Party and they did it together.

Clinton’s Health Care plan was better than Obama’s, but Bob Dole, who was running against him for President, decided that the Democrats would hold power forever if they let his health care plan proceed. Dole was so sure he was going to win the election that he told Clinton he would kill it and did. Of course, Dole didn’t win, but the health care for America got tossed.

Clinton accomplished a lot while being vilified for a sexual liaison, yet his actions were no worse than, Eisenhower, Roosevelt, the Kennedy Brothers and others we know little about. He was just exposed and hunted by a vengeful partisan wearing “Independent Council” clothing. The truly independent council didn’t find any impeachable conduct so he was fired and Kenneth Starr put in his place. He offered money to people to lie, and he threatened and jailed Susan McDougal because she refused the money and refused the threats and chose not to lie for him.

I guess  I’m yearning for the Clinton years. But, the most courageous acts of congress, both republican and democrat was going up against the most powerful organization in the United States, The National Rifle Association. Representatives on both sides of the aisle knew that their seats would be targeted and their careers likely ended if they voted for the Brady Act and any gun control measures. The amazing thing is, they did it anyway. And, those crucial votes, by representatives and senators who had the chance to kill it (by order of the NRA and didn’t)  lost their careers.

THE ONLY WAY TO REDUCE THEIR POWER IS FOR 100% OF THE CONGRESS AND HOUSE TO VOTE AGAINST THE NRA AND NOT ACCEPT THEIR MONEY. LIKE A UNION. OR ELSE, THE NRA HOLDS ALL OF US HOSTAGE. EVEN IN OUR SMALL LOCAL COMMUNITY, ANY REFERENCE OR MOVE TO CONTROL ANYTHING HAVING TO DO WITH GUNS IS MET WITH A WELL ORGANIZED RESISTANCE FROM THE NRA. THEY WILL DECIDE WHAT KIND OF COUNTRY WE LIVE IN, THE MOST POWERFUL ORGANIZATION IN THE UNITED STATES, THE NRA MAFIA.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

RELIGION AND ETHICS IN GOVERNMENT

I was raised Christian and I’m continually stunned by avowed Christians who peddle hate, and spew vitriol about Arabs or Muslims or blacks, or gays… Hate begets hate; it sears the soul and I have a difficulty with that paradox. It is also partly why I am no longer a Christian nor a believer.

So, what can we expect from our government? Right now it is divisive, there is dominant greed, a consuming lust for money, power and prestige. Decisions are made to keep themselves in power over the broader good of the country, everywhere, not just in the United States.

And while I hew to no organized religion I would invite religious leaders to condemn the behaviors we see in government and to be vocal about reminding them of their supposed purpose as leaders.

The world’s religious leaders weighed in, representing 100 of the world’s diverse faiths, including Buddhism, Islam, Bahaism, Judaism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism and all the organized Christian religions, Pentecostals, Catholics, Protestants, Evangelical Christians, Mormons.

Together they formed a Parliament of the World’s Religions. They found some common ground issued a joint statement of rules for living which exhorts all people to eschew violence, to respect and restore the planet and to work together to address the worldwide problems of poverty, hunger, oppression and prejudice. A  GLOBAL ETHIC.

Here are some of their (abbreviated by me)  Declarations toward a Global Ethic:

WE are interdependent.
Each of us depends on the well-being of the whole, people, animals, plants…
WE take individual responsibility for all we do.
All decisions, actions, and failures to act have consequences…
WE must treat others as we wish to be treated.
Respect life, dignity individuality and diversity, so every human is treated humanely…
WE consider humankind our family.
Serve others, forgive, not be enslaved by memories of hate, equality between men and women…
WE must strive for a just social and economic order, in which everyone has an equal chance of reaching his or her full potential.
We must speak and act truthfully and fairly…
WE commit ourselves to a culture of respect, justice and peace.
We will not oppress, injure, torture or kill…
Earth cannot be changed for the better unless the consciousness of individuals is changed first.
We pledge to increase our awareness by meditation, prayer, positive thinking, understanding, friendship, peace fostering…

And so it goes. The ten page document was forged by 200 religious leaders in 1993. Well meaning, but since then things have only gotten worse.
I wonder if the Parliament would choose a different leader every month to attend every session of Congress and continually quest them to adhere to the basic tenants of their declaration before they voted, if it would help? In essence to become a presence of conscience at every step of the way? Might help. Couldn’t hurt.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

SOOTHING SPIRIT OF SONG AND POETRY.

Goethe said:  One should, each day, try to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words.

Music is all around us, rowers still chant and call their strokes, campers sing around the fire, auctioneers and street vendors, sing to sell their wares, mothers sing to their children, father's too. Protestors sing on the picket lines.  Music comforts the sick and weary and inspires writers, and thinkers and all of us to grander effort, or a lighter mood. Music wafts through stores and elevators, and one is never far from television and radio. And, music for the most part is poetry.

I've been rummaging around in folk anthologies about working people's songs.
Most of us can remember Sixteen Tons,  Eight Hours, The Old Chisholm Trail.
I got caught up in the music and forgot they were real men working real jobs and suffering exploitation by the "company."  I knew Sixteen Tons was about back-breaking work at a low pay day after day where the coal miner was unable to get out of the trap of indebtedness. Employers knew how to set up that invisible net to keep them in that trap.

And, of course, I'm familiar with the happy sounds of Ty Yi Yippy, Yippy, Yea... of the Old Chisholm Trail Somehow I didn't hear or remember the other verses of the song that  make the exploitation clear. The boss can fire you on a whim and dock your pay if he sees fit and they always did.

A-ropeing and a-tying and a-branding all day,
I'm working mighty hard for mighty little pay,
I went to the boss to draw my roll,
He had me figured out ten dollars in the hole.
The boss says to me, "I'll fire you,
Not only you but the whole damn crew."
We organized a union and it's going mighty strong,
The boss minds his business and we all get along."

The song, Eight Hours was a rallying song from the late nineteenth century when people worked from sun-up to sun-set, the whole year, no vacations, no time off, no cushion against illness. Unions made things better, but young people today, don't recognize what they owe to unions and in some ways, our middle class is working very hard for low wages,often both parents, and not getting ahead. I see some similarities.
The song says:
We mean to make things over, we are tired of toil for naught,
With but bare enough to live upon and never and hour for thought.
We want to feel the sunshine and we want to smell the flowers,
We are sure that God has will'd it, and we mean to have eight hours.
We're summoning our forces from the shipyard , shop and mill,
Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest and eight hours for what we will.

Carpenters won an 8-hour day in 1890, but it took decades before the majority of workers won a shorter work day.
For me it was a repeat education and a reminder of what we owe unions and a treatise on the power of the people when they are maligned.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

WORKING PEOPLE'S SONGS.

As I move things to my storage building, there is pleasure in looking over some stuff I've saved before tossing.  I savored an old calendar from 1980 with working people's songs, the kind of stuff  Woodie Guthrie might sing, though way before his time. The first one in the calendar is familiar to just about every American:  I've Been Working On The Railroad .

Less familiar is Factory Girl.
The words are simple and direct to the point:
No more shall I work in the fac 'try, greasy up my clothes,
No more shall I work in the fac'try, with splinters in my toes
Chorus: Pity me my darling, Pity me I say
Pity me my darling, and carry me away.
No more shall I wear the old black dress, greasy all a round,
No more shall I wear the old black bonnet, with holes all in the crown.
Chorus:
No more shall I see the super come, all dressed up so proud,
For I know I'll marry a country boy before the year is out.

The only way out of gritty, poverty for a woman, was marriage. For a man it was worse.

Another song of the times is The Coal Baron's Song.
Oh, yes, let them strike as much as they like, to us 'tis a perfect boon,
Oh, merrily high the prices fly, on monopoly's big balloon.
Tho' they starve by bits in the inky pits, tho' their children cry for bread,
The end of the game must be the same, King Capital keeps ahead.
2nd verse:
Good pay? How absurd, upon my word, what more can the men require?
You speak of the poor, what they endure, deprived of their bit of fire,
What of control the price of coal, yet reduced at this time of year,
Our dividends, my worthy friends, would rapidly disappear.
3rd verse:
I'm willing to add, their work is bad, and dangerous too, to face.,
But when one stops and reels and drops, there's another to take his place,
And supply and demand, throughout the land, it is by that we will stand or fall,
We're dealing in coals, but bodies and souls, are not in our line at all.

I'd never heard of this song before. It is poorly if plaintively written and is an old folk ballad original to America.
While I was about this subject, I found a non-profit website for such ballads and folk music indigenous to our country at Smithsonian Folkways.  You might want to check it out. It has some interesting stuff. Especially the blues and lament of black freedmen and slaves who had an even greater cross to bear than poor whites.

http://www.folkways.si.edu/?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=BrandedSFW
 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

GROWING UP WITH POLITICS AND DEBATE

I grew up with politics at the supper table every night. I was always aware that the newspaper and what was happening in government at every level affected our family life. My parents would debate and inform us of what was going on until we were old enough to read the newspaper and get into the debate too.

As kids, we ran the neighborhood with flyers, and had signs on our fence posts or yard. politics it was a normal part of growing up.

When my husband and I bought our first house in a brand new tract, I immediately set out to register the voters who now had a new address. And, when election time rolled around, the polling place was set up in my garage. It remained the neighborhood polling place for the nine years we lived there.

It was from an older poll worker I learned the best thing about working the polls. It was neutral territory among friends and neighbors.  Political affiliation didn’t matter. And the food was pot luck because you couldn’t leave the polling place. She taught me to make election cake, made with persimmons that she brought every year. After she died, I made election cake.

I worked the polls when we moved to Murphys until I began to travel so much. The best thing about working the polls is meeting all of your neighbors and friends. If things weren’t too busy you could chat a little bit. But, at no time, can you discuss politics or candidates at the polls. It is an entirely neutral atmosphere that you are sworn too. At least in California, it is. And, thus it is always a friendly place to be. And, I can only add that the potluck you share with your fellow pollsters is superb because most of the workers are women.

My brother still works the polls in Valley Springs. If you’ve never done it, try it. I think they now pay mileage to the polls and you feel so good at the end of the long day, that you willingly sign on again the next year. And the food is just an added benefit. It is an important task.

So, today, is a big day in many ways. The end of the begging for money. The stark reality of who won and who lost. And, the decidedly different path our country will take as each newly elected person puts their personal belief stamp on country, state, county, or city. You can see it, feel it and know you played your part by voting. Thank you voters for caring enough to mark a ballot and exercise one of our most precious rights. The right to vote.

Monday, November 3, 2014

THINK CLIMATE CHANGE BEFORE YOU VOTE.

A crucial alarm was brought to our attention yesterday.
United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said:   “Climate change caused by burning fossil fuels has accelerated to the point that the only chance of keeping the world’s temperature below a dangerous level may be to end all greenhouse gas emissions by the end of this century The report issued in Copenhagen said climate change already is affecting life on every continent and in rising oceans.

“Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

“The scientific community across the world is sounding the alarm. Climate change is real and it will have devastating consequences around the globe unless we act boldly and decisively,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, a member of the Senate environment and energy committees.

Sanders has proposed a fee on carbon and methane emissions. The measure is cosponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Their bill would help create millions of jobs transforming the U.S. energy system away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. Another Sanders bill would end tax breaks and subsidies for oil and coal companies. A companion measure in the House is sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison.

Both ideas are backed by scientists and leading economists but blocked by Republicans in Congress. “Many Republicans now respond to the crisis of climate change by saying they are not scientists and therefore have no opinion,” Sanders said. “Well, most of them are not doctors but they respect doctors’ opinions on cancer and heart disease. Most of them are not generals but they respect the opinions of our military leaders. It’s time for them to respect the views of the scientific community on climate change.”

It is time to bug your representatives to DO SOMETHING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE, no matter what party you belong to.  Let us try to save what we have before we see devastation as it is portrayed in science fiction movies like blade runner.