A Simple Request

 

James…earn this……..earn it.

Captain John Miller’s (Tom Hanks) last words to Private James Ryan (Matt Damon)

Saving Private Ryan, 1998

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Monday is Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember all American servicemen and servicewomen who have laid down their lives in defense of the freedom we all hold dear.

Did they all have to die? Did they all even have to go fight?

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I’m sure we each have our own answers to those questions. For what it’s worth, my answer to both is no. I won’t offer any reasons; those of you who agree with me need none, and those of you who don’t are likely not interested in any.

But, if I could make just one request, lest the significance of the day get lost in all the barbecues and picnics and lake expeditions and huge blowout sales…

I would ask that every American who reads this, at some point on Memorial Day, observe a moment of silence in remembrance of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice while in the colors of the United States Armed Forces.

And, may we all, like Private Ryan, earn that sacrifice every day of our lives.

Have a safe and pleasant Memorial Day.

Manchester United

From The Guardian, 5/23/2017:

“At least 22 people, including children, have been killed and 59 injured in a suicide bombing at a crowded pop concert in Manchester, the most deadly attack in Britain in a decade.”

People of Manchester, UK:

The world cries with you.

The world mourns with you.

The world stands in solidarity with you.

You are in our hearts.

UPDATE: The second victim identified was an eight year old girl.

An eight year old girl.

When will it stop?, a passenger on my shuttle asked me this morning, perhaps rhetorically.

When the world stops, I guess.

Google Doodle Dandy

 

So, if you get on Google today, you’ll notice the “Google doodle”, an occasional alteration of the regular, iconic, multi-color logo. The Google doodle is used to honor special events and people.

Today, the doodle is a drawing of Richard Oakes, who would have been 75 years old today.

It’s okay; I didn’t know who it was, either.

Mr. Oakes, who grew up on a Mohawk reservation, was an influential activist for Native American rights in the 1960’s and early ’70’s, until he was shot and killed in 1972.

Give yourself a little history lesson today. Look up Richard Oakes and read about his life and efforts toward advancing social justice. In an era when peaceful protest is increasingly viewed by some as a “terrorist act”(!!), take some inspiration from what he accomplished with it.

Oh, and next time you see a Google doodle, tap or click on it. Never know what you might learn!

The Pretense of Ignorance

This blogger makes his point very well. It’s worth your consideration.

Note To My White Self

In 1965, the United States Congress passed legislation requiring all cigarette packaging to contain the following warning – “Surgeon General’s Warning: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema and May Complicate Pregnancy.”  While part of a larger effort to reduce smoking, there is compelling evidence that these warnings contributed to the 59% decrease in smoking that has occurred since 1965.  Millions of lives were lengthened and billions of dollars in health costs avoided because we used political force and legal regulation to destroy the pretense of ignorance.  People could continue to smoke, but they could no longer pretend they didn’t know it caused cancer.

Publicly proclaiming a truth matters.  Humans have a strong inclination to avoid negative information, especially when that information reminds us of an ugly truth.  Being repeatedly reminded of something we would rather ignore makes it difficult for us to sustain a delusion.  Indeed, studies have shown…

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My Old School

 
College football teams should make news headlines for winning games and competing for national championships.

Not for this.

According to Phillip Erickson, of the Waco Tribune-Herald, “Baylor University on Tuesday night was served with a seventh Title IX lawsuit, which alleges as many as eight football players drugged a student and took turns raping her in 2012.”

This, mind you, is on the heels of a nine-month investigation by Pepper Hamilton, LLP, of Philadelphia, into allegations of sexual assault at Baylor.

Where I went to college.

Erickson’s report is chock full of vile, repugnant details, but let me just bring up a couple for your consideration:

“According to the suit, the football team had a system of hazing freshman recruits by having them bring freshman females to parties to be drugged and gang-raped, “or in the words of the football players, ‘trains’ would be run on the girls.””

Let that soak in a minute. Part of a freshman football player’s initiation to the team involved being part of a gang rape. With a woman that he brought!

Has the gravity of that hit you yet?

Let’s continue:

“Considered a bonding experience by the players, according to the suit, the rapes also were photographed and videotaped, and the plaintiff confirmed that at least one 21-second videotape of two Baylor students being gang- raped by football players had circulated.”

A bonding experience!!

Guys, you really feel closer as teammates after raping a drugged woman together?

The report goes on to say the alleged victim and her mother met with an assistant coach from the team, gave him the names of the players involved, and never heard from him again. She was subsequently harassed by several players via text messages, discouraged by the school from taking any action, required to still attend classes with two of the players, and burglarized by members of the football team. (The items were later returned with the understanding no charges would be filed.)

Oh, and there was this:

The head football coach, Art Briles, had this to say after learning the names of the players involved: “Those are some bad dudes…why was she around those guys?” (italics mine)

Hear that, ladies? That’s why this girl was gang raped; she was around the wrong people! Never mind that she was brought to them! Even around males of questionable character, it still must be her fault somehow.

(Ladies, does that surprise you? I think I know the answer.)

 

Erickson’s report also describes the total institutional failure of the university in handling this incident, references another lawsuit, alleging 52 acts of rape (fiftytwo!) by no fewer than 31 players, and updates the status of some of the players in the legal system. There is no update on the victim, other than as the plaintiff in this lawsuit. To the school’s credit, it has taken, and is taking, important steps to assure a safer environment there for all its female students. Perhaps someday, I can look on my alma mater with pride again.

But not today. Definitely not today.

How did it ever come to this?, you wonder.

Well, the fact is, my brothers, it all comes down to how we view and treat women. Period.

I honestly don’t know how but, guys, we have got to have a major attitude adjustment in this matter.

We have got to understand, women aren’t just sex toys. They’re not college hazing props, or a “bonding experience.” They’re not a bunch of filthy sluts, just waiting for a much deserved pounding.

They’re people, guys. They’re human beings. They are entitled to respect, and dignity, and equality.

And, none of them – I mean, none of them! – ever “asks for it.”

So, fellas, let’s hold each other accountable. You hear one of your buddies talking $#!t about a woman, call him on it. Yeah, you’ll probably catch all kinds of grief for it, but this is the time for, to borrow a movie title, A Few Good Men.

Change has to start somewhere, guys. Look in your heart and start there.

The Speed of Light

 

Summer’s going fast
Nights growing colder
Children growing up
Old friends growing older
Freeze this moment
A little bit longer
Make each sensation
A little bit stronger

“Time Stand Still”, Rush

Songwriters
ALEX ZIVOJINOVICH, GARY LEE WEINRIB, NEIL ELWOOD PEART

Published By
Lyrics © OLE MEDIA MANAGEMENT

 

One of my favorite bloggers recently wrote about the unrelenting forward movement of time. He had run into an old acquaintance, who told him about her now fully grown children. This froze him in his tracks, as he remembered them as little tykes; how did they turn into adults so suddenly?

Well, we all know how, don’t we?

There’s that pesky thing known as time, which just keeps right on going, totally impervious to circumstance or human endeavor. In a world of constant change and chaos, there is one thing you can depend on: that clock is just gonna keep ticking, one precious second at a time, unstoppable, irreversible, unmerciful.

We’d all like to have some of it back, wouldn’t we? We can all add up the time we’ve wasted, and like to think, if we could get that time back, we would spend it more productively. We would be with our families more, we would be better friends, we would do more to help others in need, we would take in more of the beautiful nature that surrounds us.

But, as you and I both know, we ain’t ever getting it back. It’s gone. Forever.

 

The good news is, we haven’t run out of it, yet.

We still have time to do those things, the things that add meaning to our lives, and the lives of others. We still have the chance to tell people in our family we love them. We can still reconnect with friends we haven’t spoken to in a while, and be shocked by how old their kids are now.

Now, I know, there are many things in our lives that keep us busy, so we feel we hardly have any time even for ourselves. We all have different circumstances that put huge constraints on our available time; I get it.

But, I also know what a shame it would be to lose contact with people to whom we’re connected by blood (family) or shared experience (friends).

Because, unfortunately, that clock will run out on all of us, and any chance we may have had to use our time wisely is over. Just like that.

There are people in your life who mean something to you. When did you last get in touch with them?

Time’s a-wastin’.

Alright, All You Mothers!

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Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there!

We all owe our lives to you. Without you, there is no us.

So, thank you for going through the exquisite pain of bringing us into the world, and the more excruciating pain of bringing us up.

Sometimes, we wouldn’t listen to you. Sometimes, we willfully disobeyed you. Sometimes, we openly defied you. And occasionally, we just hated you. Maybe even told you so.

But, through all those times, deep down, we always loved you.

Because, we sat in your lap while you read to us. We played games and sang silly songs with you. We settled into our beds while you tucked us in and kissed us goodnight. We ran to you with our skinned knees, bloody noses, bee stings and broken hearts, knowing you would make it all better, as only you could.

Some of you are just amazing. All you single mothers, who do your best to fit a job (or more) in with the daily care and feeding of your children. All you moms who adopt children and welcome them into your family, loving them as though they were your own. All you “soccer moms,” endlessly shuttling your kids to this activity and that one, so they can have fun with other kids and get yelled at by all the insane parents.

Unfortunately, some of you have gone through the most painful experience there is: burying your child. You’ve lost them to disease, or to violence or, more and more lately, to suicide. I absolutely can’t imagine how deeply that must cut into your soul. I know you miss them every single day, and would sacrifice anything to bring them back. I’m so very sorry for you and your families. I wish you comfort and strength.

Bottom line, all of you are just extraordinary women, and you have certainly earned your own day. I hope you spend it in the company of your children.

Mothers around the world, I salute you. Many, many blessings on you all.

Salt That Rim

 

Today is Cinco de Mayo, or literally, “Day of the Margarita Binge.”

No, actually, that means “the Fifth of May”, and it is actually a significant date in Mexican history.

Here’s a little background, courtesy of History.com:

“In 1861, Benito Juárez—a lawyer and member of the indigenous Zapotec tribe—was elected president of Mexico. At the time, the country was in financial ruin after years of internal strife, and the new president was forced to default on debt payments to European governments.

“In response, France, Britain and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz, Mexico, demanding repayment. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew their forces.

“France, however, ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use the opportunity to carve an empire out of Mexican territory. Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large force of troops and driving President Juárez and his government into retreat.

“Certain that success would come swiftly, 6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. From his new headquarters in the north, Juárez rounded up a ragtag force of 2,000 loyal men—many of them either indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry—and sent them to Puebla.

“The vastly outnumbered and poorly supplied Mexicans, led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza, fortified the town and prepared for the French assault. On May 5, 1862, Lorencez gathered his army—supported by heavy artillery—before the city of Puebla and led an assault.

“The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers. Fewer than 100 Mexicans had been killed in the clash.

“Although not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza’s success at the Battle of Puebla on May 5 represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement. In 1867…France finally withdrew.

“Within Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is primarily observed in the state of Puebla, where Zaragoza’s unlikely victory occurred, although other parts of the country also take part in the celebration.

“In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is widely interpreted as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with substantial Mexican-American populations.

“Today, revelers mark the occasion with parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional foods such as tacos and mole poblano.”

And, of course, margaritas.

So, Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone! Enjoy some tasty Mexican food and, if you imbibe, a margarita or two, in a salt-rimmed glass. (Just have someone ready to drive for you later! 😉)

 

Hear That? It’s the World

 

President donald trump will go down in history as the greatest leader that ever was.

That’s right; I said it. You know why?

He will be the only person ever to end poverty, end crime, end racism, end sexism, end violence, end war, end all the problems of humanity.

How, you ask? Simple.

By ending all human life on this planet.

 

This past Saturday, I had the privilege of participating in the 2017 People’s Climate March. Not the one in Washington, D.C., that drew over 200,000 participants. (Go to http://www.peoplesclimate.org and look at the awesome pictures and read the inspiring stories from that day!) No, I was at one of the “Sister Marches”, in Dallas, Texas. The following pictures are from there:

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As you can see, we had a special guest.

It was an event organized by the People’s Climate Movement, held in cities across the country, and worldwide. As if Mother Nature herself wanted to drive home the point, the main march in D.C. was held in sweltering, 90-plus degree temperatures.

It was an amazing thing to witness. People of all races, religions, sexes, languages, etc., all came together for one day to acknowledge the reality of climate change, and to send the message that the people of this world care about what’s happening to the planet that sustains them, and are worried about the direction we are headed, rapidly.

And, they are not without reason. Here in the good ol’ USA, we have a President and an administrator for, of all things, the Environmental Protection Agency, who are both non believers in climate change, despite the overwhelming evidence of its existence, and who are both diligently working to accelerate it.

Exhibit A. From the New York Times, 5/29/2017:

“Since taking office, Mr. Trump has appointed one of the chief antagonists of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, as its administrator and proposed slashing its budget by nearly a third, more than any other federal agency. He has signed several executive orders aimed at rolling back President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a set of regulations intended to close heavily polluting coal-fired power plants, and restrictions on vehicle emissions, among others.

“This past week, Mr. Trump signed orders intended to initiate reviews aimed at opening certain protected lands and waters to drilling, mining and logging. His advisers were still debating whether the United States would remain in the landmark Paris climate accord. And on Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it had taken down several agency web pages that contained climate data and other scientific information relating to climate change.”

And this is all just in his first 100 days!

If you want more details:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/29/politics/trump-epa-cuts-infighting-climate-change/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/04/28/epa-website-removes-climate-science-site-from-public-view-after-two-decades/?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.228c2b16ecef

Exhibit B. The aforementioned Mr. Scott Pruitt, former Attorney General of Oklahoma, “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda”, according to his own LinkedIn page, who sued the EPA 13 times while Attorney General, is the guy trump decided was the best fit for administrator of that very agency.

Isn’t that a riot? You couldn’t find a better fox to guard that henhouse!

Oh, and it isn’t just these two. We also have Senator Jim Inhofe, who once famously displayed an actual snowball on the floor of the Senate to disprove global warming. He’s merely one of one hundred eighty climate change deniers in the U.S. Congress. Their party affiliation is irrelevant.

So is yours, in fact. I don’t give a $#!+ who you voted for. You’re a human being; you depend on this planet for your life. As will the generations that follow us. This is no longer a spectator sport.

I saw a lot of kids at the march last weekend. As I took their pictures, I told them they were the reason us grownups were marching.

And, they are. It’s their future our “leaders” in Washington are seriously jeopardizing. Let them know that matters to you.

Mr. trump, Mr. Pruitt, Mr. Inhofe and all you other climate change deniers out there: The world has spoken. Loud and clear.

And the world won’t…be…ignored.

 

National Parks and Monuments versus Golf Courses and Oil Rigs

The absolute GALL!

Ends and Beginnings

park-oil“As families prepare for summer vacations in our National Parks – Democrats threaten to close them and shut down the government. Terrible!” – Donald Trump tweet 4-27-17

I got to be honest after reading this tweet and knowing about the executive order he just signed (see below) I am at an absolute loss for words.

“President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday calling into question the future of more than two dozen national monuments proclaimed by the last three presidents to set aside millions of acres from development.

In asking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for an unprecedented review of national monuments, Trump may force a question never before tested in the 111-year history of the Antiquities Act: Whether one president can nullify a previous president’s proclamation establishing a national monument.

Signing the executive order at the Department of the Interior Wednesday, Trump called President Barack Obama’s creation of national monuments an “egregious abuse use of…

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