Shout Out to Bill Maher/Wild Animal Markets and Big AG

Bill Maher speaks out about wild animal markets, trafficking in wild animals, and our system of raising and slaughtering animals for food: “Big AG”.  He says what I have been waiting to hear from someone whose voice can be heard loud and clear.  God bless you, Bill Maher.

Just some of what Maher has to say.  Powerful to hear it all straight from him:
Torturing animals is what got us into this mess.  That’s the lesson we keep refusing to learn: that you can’t trash the environment, including animals. and not have it come back and kill YOU!
America’s factory farming is just as despicable as a wet market and just as problematic for our health.  Factory farms have a lot more lobbyists, but ecological time bombs tick the same.  …. Most, if not all, infectious diseases are zoonotic, meaning they start in animals and jump to humans.
We have “Ag Gag” laws that make it a crime to report the crime — and it is a crime — of animal abuse that goes on in our food industry.
If we keep producing food the way we do, you are going to get sick with something medicine cannot fix.  You don’t have to care for the sake of the animals.  I wouldn’t want to mess with anyone’s reputation as a heartless asshole.
Animal cruelty leads to human catastrophe.
There’s no such thing as keeping a wild animal pent up, but treating them well.
People should take their meandering outrage and focus it on this issue:  You keep animals in cages, be they tigers or turkeys, and look who winds up being the prisoner.
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American Entitlement: Does the Jury Acquit?

Americans: Who are We and How do We Define Ourselves?

Hints from the movies:  The Devil and Daniel Webster, 1941

Synopsis: A farmer sells his soul for seven years of good luck, good crops, and the money and power that flow therefrom. When time comes to pay up or give the Devil his son, he asks Daniel Webster to intervene.  Daniel Webster, quoted on my passport, was the American statesman, orator, lawyer, and influential definer of what it means to be an American.

Cast:  Walter Huston, my favorite actor (along with Jimmy Stewart) as a perfect Devil; Edward Arnold as Daniel Webster; and John Craig as the poor schmoe who realizes his mistake almost too late.

In the climactic scene, where the farmer is on trial for his soul, Webster and the Devil duke it out before a jury of 12 dead and unsavory Americans (including Benedict Arnold) who have also sold their souls.  If Webster cannot convince them, he will be lost as well.  (The Devil sets all the rules.)

The dialogue includes interesting language from 1941 on the wrongs Americans have perpetrated to gain their perceived entitlements:

Webster:  ….But you shan’t have this man.  A man isn’t a piece of property.  Mr. Stone is an American citizen, and an American citizen cannot be forced into the service of a foreign prince.

Devil:  Foreign!?  You calling me a foreigner?

Webster:  I never heard of you claiming American citizenship.

Devil:  And who with a better right?  When the first wrong was done to the first Indian, I was there.  When the first slaver put up in the Congo, I stood on the deck.  Am I still not spoken of in every church in New England?  It’s true, the North claims me for a Southerner, and the South for a Northerner, but I’m neither.  To tell the truth, Mr. Webster, though I don’t like to boast of it, my name is older in the country than yours.

 We rarely hear about wrongs done to native peoples or are asked to imagine the first ship arriving in Africa to enslave human cargo.  Would the jury acquit?

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Earth Day 2020

(See photo copyright and usage license information below.)

After We Are Gone

Will rivers wander ancient routes,
nurturing hills and valleys of their youth?

Will flowers extend scented tendrils
at the sound of bees buzzing?

Will the land bless its freedom
from concrete and steel,
from tarmac and depredation?

Will the earth forgive our desecrations?

Will a boundless carpet
of green trees, tall and shapely,
cool and purify the air with ease?

Will birds sing for joy
and bats fly free
from live wild animal markets?

Will whales cavort in clean water
for sheer bliss?

Will wolves reclaim their birthright?

Will rocks still pulse their seismic rhythms
to the beat of the human heart?*

Will the breeze blow sweet again?

Will any living creature
remember us with regret?

Except for part of one stanza, I wrote this poem before the pandemic.
*Listen to Castleton Tower vibrate.  It’s very calming.
Photo of Castleton Tower and The Rectory taken April 19, 2017 by copyright holder Ron Clausen.  I made no changes.
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

 

 

Posted in ecology, global warming, loss, Nature, Poems, uncharted territory | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Noticing Global Warming, Before We Knew What It Was

Marie Dressler, as Carlotta in Dinner at Eight (1934), reminiscing about her past life as a super-star of the New York stage, and why she can’t return to live in the city:
No, everything’s changed. I couldn’t stand it here.  I’d die.
I belong to the Delmonico* period.  Ahh, a table at the window, looking out on Fifth Avenue; boxes with flowers in; pink lampshades; string orchestras; and, I don’t know, yes — yes, willow blooms … dry champagne; and snow on the ground. — Say, they don’t even have snow any more!
Dressler isn’t the only one who notices things changing about the weather decades before there was a label to go with the change.  In Denver, a desert climate, we used to have dew on the grass in the early mornings, even the hottest.  After many years living here, the dew faded and came no more.  I wondered.  Wondered for years.  Figured I would someday find out why and surmised I wouldn’t like the explanation.  I don’t.
As twenty-somethings, my husband and I visited Yellowstone several times in the winter.  We stayed in a rustic cabin – and I do mean rustic — where the entire inside length of the door would be encrusted with several inches of ice in the morning.  We cross-country skied during the day, and had to keep moving.  The temperature would rise to minus thirty degrees at mid-day.  A stop for lunch was quick; we sat on our packs to protect us from the cold.  One didn’t dare remove a glove for very long to eat.

I check Yellowstone’s weather and temperature religiously.  It NEVER gets to minus thirty.  Never ever.  Even as a low in the coldest months.  I don’t like this, either.
There are many other things I don’t like about global warming.  You know what it means.  What I dislike almost the most is that we are doing nothing about it.  No leadership.  No will.  Perhaps that can change.  Perhaps the universe is sending us a message:  ENOUGH!  Perhaps we will start to pay attention.
*Patrons of Delmonico’s included Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Nikola Tesla, Edward VII as Prince of Wales, and Napolean III.

 

 

 

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Returning to One

Returning to One

Knowing from the inside out —

the black bear’s dreams
during winter’s quiet —
the feel of face
tucked to living fur —

the movements while sleeping
the warmth of life slow-breathing
the rise and fall of consciousness
the sustained or short awakening

to smells’ potent greeting
and hunger’s rhythmic panging —
with unsteady rise and wobbly first steps
we receive the spring as one,
the living other.

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Sheltering in Place with Good Grace

Hello WordPress community,
The last two posts do not simply highlight two great leaders.  These posts are meant to suggest what great leadership has in common: a firm grip on reality; a devotion to decency as the underpinning of civilization; and a faith in the willingness of people to adapt, or to sacrifice, their lives if necessary, when they understand it is essential.
We have done this in wartime.  And it’s wartime again.  We have received our marching orders:  SHELTER IN PLACE if you can.  We know these orders to be right, rational, and effective.  Ignoring these orders exposes our communities, small and large, to grave danger.
Our real job is to shelter in place with a minimum of complaint.  Being bored is irrelevant.  Ignoring reality is dangerous.  Placing one’s own immediate interests above those of the community is short-sighted in the extreme.
And if you are one of those who cannot shelter in place, because you are caring for the rest of us, you deserve honor and high praise.  Thank you.
______________________________________________________________
WordPressers know by now that my vision of community extends to the planet: the plants, animals, air, and water which sustain us, the human community.  Our health and well-being flourish in tandem with theirs.  In renewing my passport, I noticed it includes several special quotations.  Here are three:
We send thanks to all the Animal life in the world.  They have many things to teach us as people.  We are glad they are still here and we hope it will always be so.
Excerpt from the Thanksgiving Address, Mohawk version*
Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.
Dwight D. Eisenhower**
The principle of free governments adheres to the American soil.  It is embedded in it, immovable as its mountains.
Daniel Webster***
*The Mohawk tribe or nation
and Mohawk people
**Dwight Eisenhower was president of the United States from 1953 – 1961.  He served as Supreme Commander of Allied forces in World War II.  Quite possibly no one else could have done the job.  Eisenhower well deserves the description “statesman”.  Possibly under-rated at the time as president, Eisenhower is getting a fresh look.  His words speak for themselves.  I am beginning to read his papers.
***Webster is also described in histories as an American “statesman”.  One seldom hears that word anymore.  Now we have politicians, but few deserve the more august title.  I can think of several stateswomen, however.
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Leadership, John F. Kennedy-style

Kennedy’s civil rights address to the nation, June 11, 1963

(Time indicators follow quotes.)

John F. Kennedy began this address to the nation on June 11, 1963, by describing what had just occurred at the University of Alabama.  Pursuant to court order, and over the objections and body barricade of Alabama Governor George Wallace, two young people of color had just been admitted as students under the watchful eye of the Alabama National Guard.  Enrollment was peaceful, “due in good measure to the conduct of the students of the University of Alabama, who met their responsibilities in a constructive way.”  Kennedy continues with the speech of a lifetime.  In his too-short life, he gave more than one such.

….Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. 1:18  When Americans are sent to Vietnam or West Berlin, we do not ask for whites only.  It ought to be possible, therefore, for American students of any color to attend any public institution they select, without having to be backed up by troops. 1:38  It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service in places of public accommodation … without being forced to resort to demonstrations in the street. 1:57  And it ought to be possible for American citizens of any color to register, and to vote, in a free election, without interference or fear of reprisal. 2:08

It ought to be possible, in short, for every American to enjoy the privileges of being American, without regard to his race or his color. 2:19  In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. 2:28

But this is not the case.  [Kennedy then details some of the economic, social, and physical realities and effects of discrimination.]  [Discrimination] is not a sectional issue….[S]egregation and discrimination exist in every city, in every state of the Union. 3:21….Nor is this a partisan issue.  In a time of domestic crisis, men of good will and generosity should be able to unite, regardless of party or politics.  This is not even a legal, a legislative issue alone. 3:45….[L]aw alone cannot make men see right. 3:57

We are confronted primarily with a moral issue.  It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. 4:06

The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities.  Whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated. 4:19

….Who among us would be content with the counsels of patience and delay?  One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves.  Yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free.  They are not yet free from the bonds of injustice; they are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. 5:15

And this nation, for all its hopes, and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free. 5:24

….Now the time has come for this nation to fulfill its promise. 5:58 ….Where legal remedies are not at hand, redress is sought in the streets…. We face therefore a moral crisis as a country and a people. 6:35 ….[I]t cannot be met by repressive police action. 6:39….It cannot be quieted by token moves, or talk. 6:47

It is a time to act … in the Congress, in your state and local legislative body, and above all, in all of our daily lives. 6:58

It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this is a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the facts that we face.  A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all. 7:18

Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence.  Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality. 7:30….[JFK discusses the legal and legislative mechanisms he is proposing for action by Congress.]

….Nationwide legislation is needed, if we are to move this problem from the streets to the courts. 9:27 ….But legislation, I repeat, cannot solve this problem alone.  It must be solved in the homes of every American, in every community across our country 10:46….[T]hese are matters which concern us all — not merely presidents, or congressmen, or governors — but every citizen of the United States.  This is one country. 12:05

….Therefore, I am asking for your help in making it easier for us to move ahead and provide the kind of equality of treatment which we would want for ourselves. 12:39  [The African-American community has] the right to expect that the law will be fair, that the Constitution will be colorblind, as Justice Harlan said at the turn of the century. 13:09

This is what we are talking about.  And this is a matter which concerns this country and what it stands for.  And in meeting it, I ask the support of all of our citizens.
____________________________________________________________________

As a young girl, I heard JFK give this speech live on television, and I knew then what leadership was.

Facing realities, coming together as one people to solve problems, without finger-pointing and blame, asking for help, summoning our best natures to adapt in ways which may be uncomfortable but are critically necessary  — this is leadership.  Long may it guide us.

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Leadership, Andrew Cuomo – style

Some recent quotes from New York governor Andrew Cuomo on combatting the coronavirus outbreak (among other things):

[In response to federal government statements and action]:

 No one is held harmless from reality.

 Being angry is a luxury.  We don’t have that luxury.  Let’s deal with the facts.

There’s a strength in the fact of “all of us”.

This is going to change us.  This is going to form a new generation, and it will transform who we are and how we think.

We have to do both public health and economic development.

Leadership is helping us see where we need to go, why we need to get there, and how we are going to make that happen.  Leadership calls upon the strengths of the community, as individuals and as a nation, as a member of the world family, to build something new together.  Something essential to our humanity.  Something requiring a bedrock vision of who we are and what we can be.  Something founded on heart, decency, compassion, energy, and unwavering commitment.  Leadership asks for our help and makes us want to give it freely.

Let’s start getting there!

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Nostalgic for Neanderthals

And speaking of evolution, I wax evermore nostalgic for Neanderthals.  Anthropologists confirm that Neanderthals buried their dead with tender care and were probably not the brutes we thought they were.  (Is it a human survival trait to think anyone different is a brute?)  Neanderthals also did not plague the planet with concrete or pollute beyond health our air and water.  Small-community interaction seems steadily more appealing, as well.

Hoping for good health for our world community!

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What’s Our IQ?

Intelligence

           Decades ago I read a definition of intelligence that surprised and befuddled me.  “Intelligence is the ability to adapt.”*  I couldn’t accept this definition.  Wasn’t intelligence the ability to acquire and use information?  As I aged and grew (possibly) wiser, I began to appreciate the definition’s Darwinian underpinnings.  Intelligence is, among other things, the willingness and ability to observe and learn; to think for oneself; to study the past and prepare for the future.  It’s about confronting and responding appropriately to the reality around us.

           We humans may be scoring low on the intelligence quotient. (SeeAre We Un-Evolving?”)

           The universe’s essential element is change.  All life encounters trials which threaten survival.  Do we embrace these as a species and thrive, or ignore them and stumble?  Addressing challenges — through biological transformation and/or behavioral modification —is what we call evolution.  Those species who don’t adapt (or don’t have the time to adapt) to meet the shifting characteristics of their surroundings will fail.  Adaptive intelligence increases the likelihood a species will endure for millennia.

           Humans face many challenges.  Let’s get on with the important business of evolving into a viable species.

*This quote, with the addition of to change after adapt, is sometimes attributed to Stephen Hawking.  But I read it many years before Hawking was famous or even old enough to be quoted.  Perhaps many others have written about intelligence this way.
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