Fact Vs. Opinion

I watched the above Ted Talk the other day featuring journalist Michael Specter.  The talk focuses on people that refuse to listen to scientific facts, an example being those that are anti-vaccine.  The best part was when he talks about how people are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

We have had a cold spell in Texas recently and the usual people talk about how this disproves climate change.  Anyone that actually reads about this subject knows that weather and climate are two different things.  If someone doesn’t want to do anything about climate change, it may be foolish at best, but that is their opinion.  However, if they deny that it is taking place, they are completely ignorant of the facts.  It is either that or they are knowingly telling a lie.

Here is a link to NASA and other scientific bodies that agree that climate change is happening and that man is causing it:

NASA and Other Scientific Groups Agree Man-made Climate Change is Happening

We must Make America Somewhere No One Wants To Live

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We Must Make America Somewhere No One Wants To Live

A pretty funny article that is all too true about the current Republican leadership and their plans.  It says the Republican immigration plan is to turn America into, “somewhere no one wants to live.”

Hat tip to Kevin Russell

The Past is Not Past

I spent most of the day either at rehearsal or learning about Stonewall Jackson.  S.C. Gwynne has written another captivating book.  I’m not far enough into it to feel that I can talk about it, but there is no question that Jackson was a “unique” individual.  Today was one of those days that slipped through my grasp.  One minute I’m drinking coffee and the next the sun is going down.

After this recent election, which seems to defy reason, I have been looking for answers about our current political climate in our history and culture.  How did we arrive at this moment in time?  Take climate change for instance, something for which Obama just made a great step forward with his deal with China.  (I am still reading up on our deal with China for more specifics.)  The fact that climate change is occurring is scientific fact.  There is some uncertainty as to the exact outcome, but don’t get confused by the word uncertainty.  Think about if a large rainstorm came in.  You know that the ground will be soaked, but you can’t say for certain if the big oak tree out front is going to fall over.  That however, doesn’t mean it is not raining.  Anyway, so science and all reason point to climate change happening, yet not only does a portion of the populace not believe it is real, but we have elected officials that are not scientists, that claim they know more than scientists, going to be in charge of parts of our environmental policy.

Now there is no doubt that these people are for the most part bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry.  You don’t have to be Columbo to deduce that.  You also don’t have to be Columbo to figure out that the regions with the most jobs in the fossil fuel industry are also the regions that are most against us doing anything about climate change.  Yet I don’t think it is as simple as a mere question of economics.

From the very beginning of our country there is an element that is against any kind of centralized authority.  Part of our country also puts faith above reason.  I just read in the Stonewall Jackson book last night that in 1850 Florida only had 85,000 inhabitants and half of them were slaves.  It is hard to imagine that modern Florida, with Disney World and Miami and the countless beach resorts, was created in 164 years, which is the lifespan of two humans.  Go to Miami and think about how two lives ago it was a desolate swamp.  As far as civilization goes our country is but a baby.

I am still thinking about all of this myself.  I wanted to ask those of you that read this a rhetorical question.  How does our unique American history and culture affect the way in which we think politically?  Places that were settled by different ethnic and religious groups often ended up quite different.  Places that had to subdue the land and keep people oppressed often ended up quite different than places that were booming with industry.  All of these things factor into who we are now.  How so?

Protecting Children and Bartertown

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Often when someone is outraged about some kind of cultural issue, whether it be some kind of art that someone finds offensive, or gay marriage, or whatever, they often fall back on protecting the children.  If things keep going the way they are, I wonder what these people are protecting kids for.

Are they protecting them to live in a country that is constantly at war?  Are they protecting them so that they can grow up and live on a planet thats environment has been seriously degraded?  Are they protecting them so they can grow up and work constantly and never get ahead?

It seems like the people that often talk about protecting children are not protecting them from the very things that they should be worried about.  I call bullshit.

Let’s just say hypothetically, and I don’t believe this at all, that gay people were going to corrupt children.  Would it even matter much if these kids grew up to be adults that were economically oppressed in an environment that was toxic?  It seems like some people’s priorities, even if you look at things from their standpoint, are a little backwards.  Don’t hang an obscene painting on the wall, but it is okay if at some point they have to look out the window at skies that resemble Beijing.

But hey, it is there kids.  If they want to allow their kids to grow up and live in Bartertown, then I guess that is on them.

The End of Beaches

The end of beaches? Why the world’s shorelines are in serious trouble http://www.salon.com/2014/11/08/the_end_of_beaches_why_the_worlds_shorelines_are_in_serious_trouble/

The above article at Salon is exactly why we don’t need to be letting someone like Jim Inhofe in charge of environmental decisions at this time in our history.  

Writing Exercises and Trees

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Writing is a constant work in process.  Last night my girlfriend insisted that I try some writing exercises.  I don’t intend to share all or even most of them, but I wanted to share one, as I think doing exercises like this are helpful in pushing oneself to be a better writer, even if the actual thing you write is not that great.  The following was written stream of conscious.  That is kind of the point, to push the mind in different places and to write about things you normally might not write about.  The question for the writing exercise asked me to describe the trees of my childhood.  I’m not claiming that the following is anything to be proud of, but I hope that some of you that like to write, and the world needs good writers, will push yourself to try new ways to approach writing.

I used to climb trees on a regular basis.  I had a giant maple tree in my front yard.  I would swing from the branches like a monkey while my friends and I discussed the things that young boys discussed.  The tree was a friend and a place of comfort.  Sometimes I would go out to the tree alone and feel as if I was in the company of another.  

In the summer the trees leaves were a deep beautiful green. In the Fall they became almost psychedelic as they turned vibrant shades of red and orange.  In the winter the tree empty of foliage, but the it still looked alive, like a patient in an induced coma that was going to be woken up once their malady had been cured.  
Later on the tree actually did get a malady and had to have some of its branches reduced.  My family thought the tree might have to be completely cut down, but it was stronger than we knew.  It was great to see this friend overcome it’s hardship.  
It did lose the branch that allowed one to access the higher ones.  By this time I was no longer light enough for the branches to support my weight anyway.  Life changes all.  The tree and I were different, but we still had a secret code where I knew we understood each other.  In our struggles we had grown strong together.  I loved the tree with not just the innocent love of a child, but also with the cold hard respect of an adult.  
When people cut down old growth forests I wonder how they can do this.  They have no respect for nature.  They are cutting down something wiser and stronger than them.  They are proving themselves to be nothing but fools.  What they do not know is that sooner or later nature will cut them down, and seeds will sprout up in place of the old trees, long after civilization has been dusted off the planet.  

The End of Climate Change Denialism?

Is this the beginning of the end of climate change denialism? http://www.salon.com/2014/09/20/if_climate_deniers_don%e2%80%99t_believe_science_listen_to_the_birds_partner/ via @Salon

I can only hope that this article has some truth to it.  If you look at most issues slowly but surely the human race becomes more just.  However what threatens to stop this slow climb to justice is the environmental issues that we face.  We can slowly fight for human rights, gay equality, peqce, etc.  However, eventually we will run out of time on environmental problems.  We don’t have the benefit of taking the long slow road to environmental justice.  If we don’t wake up soon, we will wake up in a world we wished we hadn’t.