Good news!

On this morning after a weekend of being riveted, horrified, saddened, dismayed, disgusted, angered by the violence and news coming out of Charlottesville, Virginia; after my amazement that the POTUS’ response to the violence correctly used the multi-syllable big word ‘egregious’ coupled with a clear dog whistle;  after all of that I would like to take a moment and celebrate some good news!

  1. Elon Musk powers up on an island. I want to take more time and look at the data presented in this article,  but I celebrate continued solar energy use and development combined with battery storage.
  2. Bruno Mars donates $1M to Flint, Michigan for the water crisis that started in 2014. For today, I celebrate Mr. Mars’ acknowledgement of the problem and contribution.
  3. Waymo, Google’s self-driving car arm is considering automobile exteriors with adhesive properties such that if you’re hit by a Waymo, you do not become an equal and opposite reaction into something else. This sounds like really kewl technology and while I celebrate that Waymo is looking into options, it almost sounds like pedestrians are at risk? Really, Waymo? So,  I celebrate, wonder, and will continue to watch this development.
  4. Paul Manafort’s home was searched for evidence by the FBI using a ‘no knock’ warrant! Whoa.  The good news: Didn’t see that one coming! And thank you Ann for pointing out that the search occurred outside the leaky communication channels residing in the White House and Mr. Manafort was not tipped off that it was coming.  I celebrate that not all of government leaks!

And to end, good news from a favorite scene in Futurama. Professor Farnsworth presents Fry with a pill, number 7 on this link if you want to listen.

Fry: I can’t swallow that.

Professor Farnsworth:  Well then, good news! It’s a suppository …

Devaluation of employment and the Apprentice President.

 

Given the low unemployment rate, it seems there is an uptick in the number of stories which reference the difficulties employers are experiencing in finding suitable candidates for employment.

An apprentice is “a person who is learning a trade from a skilled employer, having to agreed to work for a fixed period at low wages.”¹ And so today we consider the bungler-in-chief, the apprentice who continues his cage match with the office of President of the United States and the standard he continues to bear lower and lower.

Leadership Tyranny and Nepotism:

Trump has installed his daughter, her spouse,  and his own friends and followers in prominent positions of power or influence.

Take-away: Lucky sperm, affluent eggs, and proximity carry more weight than education, dedication, and experience.  If your last name, your <skin color, gender, connections, insert affirmative action descriptor here> don’t align with our “values”, get outta here. Better luck in the next life!

Measured constraint Abandon and Arrogance:

Trump communicates international policy Tweets “fire and fury” poking the unstable bear in the Hermit Kingdom.  Presumably this tweet was an end-run around Secretary of State Tillerson. And that poor US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley!

Although I disagree with her politics, I would hazard that a talented, devoted, and serious politician has thrown her card in the ring under the bus.  How to represent the US in an international forum when her manager is keen on watching shit hit a fan?

Take-away: Your boss can’t be trusted.  He can damage years of planning, hard work, and relationship building by impetuous, angry, ill-considered 140-character blasts on his worldwide bullhorn, Twitter.

Building relationships, using professional communications, maintaining confidentiality between co-workers is overrated.  Wild-mood swings and a healthy potty-mouth will get you all the way to the White House!

Thoughtfulness Thoughtlessness:

Trump reading material.  He doesn’t need to read daily intelligence briefings.  He gets a twice-daily — that’s more than once, it’s just terrific, it’s the best, it’s great, it’s simple — it’s a folder full of praise for him.

Take-away #1: Reading for the sake of learning something new, reading for the pure joy of escape or learning, or reading for the sake of staying up-to-date on the daily concerns of the Republic are overrated and, trust me, are not even necessary. I’m here to announce that in 2017, the concept of a “President’s reading list” is an oxymoron and none of your business but it is all about him.

Take-away #2: Move along.  Nothing wrong with the narcissism of Trump.  If it’s not about him, it’s not worth his time and that includes you and any concerns you may have. Worried about that crazy Kim in the Hermit Kingdom? We have our own crazy Don to worry about here.  Get back to work …

Work ethic Time off/Golf habit:

Speaking of getting back to work, as of this writing, Trump has been in office 201 days. In those 201 days, he has golfed 46 times.  The cost to the taxpayer (again, to date) is $57,648,904. Assuming he plays a 18- hole round each time, he has played 828 holes. Assuming a 4-stroke average of par for a hole and giving The Donald the benefit of the doubt that he shoots par each hole even though we know he lies like the rug on his head, he has taken 3,312 strokes while POTUS.

And! $57,648,904 divided by 3,312 works out to a cost of $17,406 to the taxpayer every time Prescedense Trump takes a swing! Whoa!

(For comparison purposes, according to Golf Digest, Rory McIlroy is the 2017 highest paid golfer, $49,514,505. Arnold Palmer remains second. Whoa! Nice work Mr. Palmer.)

Trump’s annual take of $400,000 salary as POTUS divided by golf swings works out to a cost of $120.77/swing. Ah, a number that is understated for sure. It doesn’t include itemized costs like transportation (Air Force One), security (Secret Service) and other costs intrinsic with protection of the POTUS.

Take-away: Hard work is overrated and underpaid. Until you get caught, use other people’s money (OPM).

Well, this has been a dispiriting exercise. The POTUS Donald reliably demonstrates a blatant disregard for anything other than his own self. In a position of power and authority, he should be a leader, but he does not inspire; he is lazy; he is incompetent.

Dollars to donuts, he is a grifter running his business out of the White House, bilking the US out of billions. Dollars to donuts.


¹Until he releases his income tax returns, we can assume that President Trump is making less money from his role as President of the United States than he makes from the Trump Organization.

As a plausible conspiracy theory to defraud the United States — the country, the entire Republic, the all of our resources, the all of us — I believe Trump is using the Secret Service and the military power of the United States for protection from foreign powers that do not think as much of him as he does. As an elected pol, he is using us all for cover.

Who are the endless foreign powers who own a piece of him and his? I contend that he’s also been kept afloat and is still in business because the people dealing with him have had the cushion of interpreters and legal personnel between them and him. They don’t want to deal one-on-one with the man who sits POTUS. Sit with that for a bit.

 

Priorities.

I was intrigued by the New York Times article on Diane Hendricks and her revitalization efforts in Beloit, WI. Diane Hendricks is the same woman who in 2011 petitioned Governor Scott Walker to make Wisconsin a red state, to get rid of collective bargaining.  “What can we do to help you?” Help to the governor.  Not help to the people already employed by her various businesses. Not help to the collective bargainers working on their behalf because she was not.

And so, hello? What is this? Do I need to revise my inner cynic? Silence my critic? Is this article evidence that “with great wealth comes great responsibility”¹ and Ms. Hendricks with great wealth is stepping up to the plate with a home run for great responsibility? Changing things up for the citizens of Beloit, WI?

Ah, but no. While I give Ms. Hendricks major props for rehabbing buildings and creating an environment to attract start-ups in Beloit, Diane Hendricks has not changed. Diane Hendricks’ dollars are focused on buildings — on a “vision of how things can be” in real estate. She is running an episode of “Fixer Upper” on a city-wide scale.

The task remains for someone else, or maybe it will be many someones to do the truly heavy lifting  — the job creation, the running of businesses, the injection of sustaining and sustainable income flow to the local economy for the benefit of people who live there. That workout is left to the entrepreneurs and job creators she is aiming to attract. At the Comply365 offices a sign reads “World Class People” and maybe for Beloit, they will also look in Beloit? It is part of the world.

And so I put Beloit on watch.  It’s an economic petri dish.  It’s admirable that the self-made billionaire injects money into the place and it is a place to start. But, for Beloit, I hope someone with a vision bigger than real estate steps up for the people.

And Beloit is not alone.

As of this writing, the unemployment in Beloit remains high, 25% of Beloit lives in poverty.²


¹Bill Gates.

² Stevenson, Alexandra. “In a Weary Wisconsin Town, A Billionaire-Fueled Revival”. The New York Times. 05 August 2017. Web. 7 August 2017.

Bravo! Dr. Willie Parker! Bravo!

After the Democratic Party announced that they “will not withhold financial support for candidates who oppose abortion rights” yesterday, today is a great day to cheer for Dr. Willie Parker! Dr. Parker brings kindness, compassion, empathy, expertise and years of experience to the morally difficult and emotionally charged subject of abortion.

  • As a black man, he calls hogwash on the argument that abortion is equivalent to black genocide.
  • As a righteous man — and I do not mean self-righteous, I mean righteous — good, virtuous, upstanding, decent — he is claiming or reclaiming the moral high ground that a woman — a fully formed, autonomous life —  has a body that is all her own. A woman is not merely a host body whose independence is tossed aside if she happens to be pregnant.
  • And of most significance is that Dr. Parker is an evangelical Christian with an interpretation and a conclusion on abortion rooted in the very same Bible as other “Bible-believing Christians”. His Bible requires him to treat his patients with a Christlike compassion and empathy.  He has struggled with what it means to deny women abortions and he has reached the conclusion, from the story of the Good Samaritan no less, that as a Christian he is required to help his patients.

And so today, I cheer this good man who presents an educated, moral, complete, and kind argument in contrast to, and in answer to the hyperbole and misdirection employed by those who would deny a woman the right to her own body.


For more information, I’ve included a link to an interview with Dr. Parker and a link to purchase his book Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice:

Interview: Dr. Willie Parker on Why Abortion Rights Are a Moral Imperative, Especially for Christians (Hat Tip: Jezebel)

Web-site: Dr. Willie Parker

 

Loon balloons & remote internet.

I’ve returned from Vivacation in the beautiful remote north woods of Minnesota where the loons are on the lake, loons can be heard, and Internet connectivity is scarce, sparse, or both. It’s truly lovely. (Well, once you get acclimated.  In my opinion, loons sound like the start of a horror movie; I’m always sure Bigfoot is near.)

In my news feed this morning, the ‘thing to know’ is that Google has a secretive lab working to bring internet connectivity to remote locations.  Google calls it Project Loon.  Some day soon, a Vivacation could include the sound of loons on the lake and floating Google X Loon Balloons overhead. Synchronicity. Beautiful.

Google, Division X, Project Loon brings information to a “… rural schoolhouse that had never been able to receive high-quality Internet signals.” Cassidy was able to help a teacher “supplement that day’s lesson with Google maps and Wikipedia. … Later when Cassidy spoke to the kids, they shared their goals: One wanted to be an engineer; another, a doctor.” (Project Loon. The article is worth the read.))

Engineers and doctors.  Not unlike the kids who currently enjoy full internet access to all the questions and answers anytime all the time. Although Project Loon is developing under the guise of “high-quality Internet signals”, we are not fooled. The curation of the high-quality Internet signals and free-flowing data gives internet access its value.  It is the teacher looking over the shoulder or directing classroom access that shapes all that information into knowledge.

But back to me.  Here is what the sketchy internet connection interrupted on Vivacation:

  • Facebook.
  • Clickbait.  Michael Phelps raced a shark.
  • The New York Times. Although wait, what? Evidently Michael Phelps versus shark was a real thing. Really? Ugh.
  • Access to the Viva blog.

In the absence of continuous connectivity, it became painfully obvious that the Internet is crack for an information junkie. Attention span? In an attention second.

And then I read three books. In hand. Beginning, middle, end. A vacation dream.

So please forgive me for being a cynic about connecting everyone everywhere all the time. People living in remote locations might not need or want an Internet connection. What is the purpose of the Internet? Connectivity?

Most of the time we like to watch who and what we know.  I watched a documentary in the early 1990’s of a small remote French village that was given a free local-access channel by a cable company that wanted to expand.  It turned out that the villagers were most interested in watching the local channel. They liked to watch each other. (A favorite featured two women overcome by a bottle of wine while cooking. Billed as a cooking show, it looked like a drinking game.)

Are we arrogant in thinking that remote peoples benefit from our presence? That they need our inclusion? Are we using technology to promote Western Civilization? And how ethnocentric is technology to Western Civilization? If we consider education, what does a remote villager need to know? What do they want? What could we offer them? An introduction to electronic attention deficit disorder?

Well then! Get your Googles on and welcome to my world!

George Orwell on blogging.

For all of the references to George Orwell’s 1984 predicting the age of Newspeak, government control, war is peace, etc. the pundits forgot to remind us that Orwell captured the essence of blogging:

“It was curious that he seemed to not merely to have lost the power of expressing himself, but even to have forgotten what it was that he had originally intended to say.”

And here we are off on Vivacation! A place of peace at last for a bit of solitude and reflection with the exception of jack-hammering away a concrete pier, the coming and going of trucks taking loads of busted stuff off to where or away, the high-pitched hum of a mosquito landing strip close by …

Aside from all of these things, setting all these things aside …

We set off to make a point …

Which was …

Something something … Orwell …

Ah yes! Blogging and the power of words. Isn’t it wonderful that 33 years past the actual year of 1984, I am reading or rereading, I don’t recall — the plot, the characters, the words seem so familiar and yet so new —  the book 1984?  And that the power of words published in 1949 reach through time and capture this blogger’s lament? Timeless.

The struggle is real.

Hmmm, Part II. Remember the Aerosol!

Ah, aerosol cans.  An early memory of Right Guard was of my father boldly announcing he needed a “trucker’s shower” and then giving himself a spritz of Right Guard from an aerosol can under each arm.

But he was a trucker and this was the early ’70’s and we lived on a non-working farm. We were surrounded by smells bigger than us. But then someone noticed the changing ozone and this is what became of that aerosol can of Right Guard:

In the 1970’s scientists made a link between aerosol cans and depletion of the earth’s ozone layer.  By the time I graduated from college in the 1980’s, aerosol cans filled with chlorofluorocarbon propellants had been (mostly) eliminated. We had found other propellant to compel deodorant to stick under our arms.

And these are links to information I tripped into from internet rabbit holes filled with ozone depletion:

The History of the Ozone Layer ¹

tl;dr? The Ozone Depletion site walks through the discovery of the ozone layer, what it is — a layer of “planetary sunscreen,” and the discovery that the ozone layer was being depleted.  Depleted by the “actions of mankind.”

Bad Hair Day: Are Aerosols Still Bad for the Ozone Layer?²

tl;dr? Scientific American weighs in on whether the chemicals used as a propellant for hygiene products now are any safer than the chlorofluorocarbons used in the ’70’s.   New propellants emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to smog in the down-here-in-the-layer-we-breathe layer.

Why were we able to detach from our beloved aerosols in support of the ozone then, but are now so attached to our greenhouse gas production?

And then a Viva aha! Consider the age old question – which came first –  the chicken or the egg?

1987: The Montreal Protocol

In the ’70s and ’80s “trucker’s showers” spray cans gave way to deodorant sticks, roll-ons, and non-aerosol sprays. At a local, personal level, we affected change, however much, however minimal, by changing our consumption. We heard that aerosols could be bad for the ozone, stopped buying aerosol deodorant, and manufacturers changed their product application. Egg, then chicken.

Or?! Did deodorant manufacturers, smelling the winds of change, take action to comply with the Montreal Protocol without us even realizing our behavior and consumption were evolving? Chicken, and then egg?

Chickens and eggs, eggs and chickens.  Aerosols at the consumer level have been virtually eliminated  as a result of the Montreal Protocol, (1987). “Kofi Annan on the ‘most successful’ Montreal Protocol”, Tom Duck’s Blog.³

2016: The Paris Agreement

By way of contrast to the Montreal Protocol (MP), the Paris Agreement (PA) aims to limit greenhouse gas production. Compliance happens somewhere else, it’s a supply problem. This agreement is a full-blown fight between governments, businesses, scientists, and on and on and the chicken comes first. By the time we get to the egg, i.e. the consumer, the demand, I am left feeling there is not much I can do to affect change complementary to the Paris Agreement.

Where do I start? Where would I start?

Well, as consumers we know that small behavior changes (micro) by a large population (macro) results in sustainable change. The examples of micro-behavior changes gone macro are limitless, but let’s pick on bottled water:

  • Remember when paying for bottled water seemed silly?
  • And then remember then it became the best thing — a soda alternative-and how-did-we-ever-live-without-this convenience-type of thing?
  • And now, when we reach for a water bottle, we are reminded that there are billions of pieces of plastic in the Arctic?  And our water bottle doesn’t look so shiny anymore …
  • But! It looks like changes to delivery in support of portability, sustainability, and carbon-footprint reduction for bottled water will be boxed drinking water and a surgence˜ of drinking fountains outfitted to refill more long-lasting portable sippy cups, yes?

And all this assumes a stable water supply, but that’s another discussion.

An observation on the years between MP and PA:

Between the aerosols of the 1970s and now, I submit that a subtext introduced by the Reagan Administration’s focus on trickle-down economics had a trickle-down affect on social responsibility.  By shifting focus to business and industry to solve problems — a shift to supply — there was an erosion of the importance micro- or individual-actions can make in affecting macro- or large-scale change. We don’t believe our little egg changes make a difference because the solution lies elsewhere, with big entities, big government, with the chickens, with the supply.  Not with us.  The eggs, the demand.

But trickle down economics doesn’t work.  Neither does trickle-down environmental care.

However small the footprint of my armpits, foregoing aerosols for non-aerosol deodorants was in the best interests of the planet and the ozone layer. And chicken or egg, supply or demand, that product – deodorant – changed and the change remains.

Small micro-personal actions in concert with macro-consumer activism and conscientious development and tech will result in durable and lasting breakthroughs that benefit the environment. Benefit the planet.  We will all be better gardeners.

And as always, we remain the skeptic gardener.

(For reference: ways to reduce carbon footprint.)


¹The web-pages of Ozone Depletion>Ozone Facts were dated.

²The web pages of the Scientific American were not dated. Some of their articles are. Some are not. This leaves us to wonder as regards to dated information.

³(I want to) read more on Tom Duck’s Blog. 

˜Surgence, a Viva definition: a rising into prominence of life, activity, prominence the first time around.  If there is a resurgence, should not there be a surgence first?