Posts tagged ‘fires’

Harvey Weinstein, GMOs, Fire, and Living in Ignorance

ca. 2000 — Man Putting Fingers in Ears — Image by © Duncan Smith/Corbis

Are you sick to death of media coverage of Harvey Weinstein? The DIC (Dotard in Charge) has taken a sledge hammer to our democracy, and we get more coverage of Harvey and his perversions? The story here is not how Harvey raped (alleged) or exposed himself, but how his power and influence had others just turn away. See Donald Trump. NBC’s behavior about the story is despicable as they tried to kill it after pressure from Weinstein lawyers. Says something about news as entertainment and profit. People in Hollywood are just shocked and you know that they are shocked because now they can afford to be.

Hollywood is not the only place where who you know makes your career, it is just the most visible one, and with lots of beautiful women, there is going to be sexual abuse where someone in power abuses their power. Again see Donald Trump. The truly sad think is how many looked away because their career depended on it. There are lots of talented people, so who gets the shot, who gets the major role, who gets the promotion. We would like to pretend it is all on merit, but who you know is more important in many cases that your raw talent. So we are set up for abuse. Again see the DIC. Kiss his ass and you are his friend. It is the human condition and we just need to be braver at calling it out.

I have always thought the public outcry about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) is a bunch of pseudo science. Let’s face it, plants and animals modify their genes in nature all the time. They are called mutations. But a scientist does it to make a plant more hearty or healthy and we have Frankenstein. So you see non-GMO on packages because like the people who think vaccinations cause autism, people have a false sense understanding of science and nature. Now sure, there can be problems, but here is a story of survival of my favorite fruit, the banana. It is being wiped out world-wide by a fungus so scientists are trying to produce a more fungus resistant strain. Come on people, like everything else, its gray. Of course humans don’t like gray, they like black and white for simple minded decision making. Once again see the DIC in action. But that is not how our universe works. I would bet those folks in wine country would like to see some more fire resistant trees developed.

The fire here in California is probably the way of our future. We are having another Red Flag* day today and I got the message, have a bag packed with your getaway stuff so you can be out of here in 1 minute or less. Think about the essentials, a couple changes of cloths, passports, medicine, shaving kit, spare glasses, and a checklist for other critical stuff if you have time. This story in the WaPo is just harrowing and you think this will not happen to you, but I live in the forest and if Santa Rosa can burn down, well just wow. But the one thing about local news (Sacramento) was that most stations were just terrible at covering it. But when they finally focused, it was only for the big shots of flames. Now that the fire is semi-under control, well, on to other things. But the real story is the aftermath and how we recover. The real learning is there. But there is a car chase on I-5 so our gaze deflects… Oh, and think about it, California is a rich state and the damage was extensive with over 2500 homes just gone, schools gone, businesses gone, and this is very minor compared to Puerto Rico.  This President makes me ill.

Finally, we come to the sledge hammer wielding of the DIC fulfilling his “campaign promises” to destroy America. I wrote about them yesterday. Primarily we are talking about his assault on Obamacare and Iran, and nukes in general. On that latter case, the NYT had an excellent piece fact checking what he told us about Iran and nukes and how badly flawed the narrative was (untrue). Here is the WaPo on his subsidies claim as bailouts (four Pinocchios). I have no doubt he believes this stuff, but it is all wrong. How can you have effective policy based upon false assumptions about cause of problems? Or if you want to stay awake at night, think about how you have the facts wrong about Iraq, and totally misunderstand North Korea and have an effective nuclear deterrent policy. The sad thing is most Republicans are in the same boat as the block research and data that might show them the light. We are being lead by Dumb (the Republican Party) and Dumber (the DIC). Sleep well tonight.

*Red Flag means temperatures are warm, humidity is very low, and winds are high making any fire that gets started basically uncontrollable.

If There Were a God, I Would Think He is Trying to Tell Us Something

Devastating hurricanes in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Houston, and now massively destructive fires in California.  So when’s the big quake? I don’t want to point this out, but the pain and suffering is spread around between both partisan sides of the political spectrum.  The only constant through all of this is the President of the United States, who a minority of the people elected and then shit happened.  Could this be a sign?

Of course all of this could look benign compared to what could happen if the Dotard In Charge (DIC) starts a war on the Korean Peninsula, withdraws from the Iran agreement, hastening their nuclear program, kills Obamacare so millions are once again left without healthcare (oh, they have access, they just can’t afford that access), while his EPA Chief allows the raping of the environment again, all, of course, in the name of reducing regulations and letting the market place work.  There is nature’s fury, and then there is man made damage caused by the DIC put in place by ignorant and ill informed voters, and enabled by power hungry Republicans. If I believed in God, maybe a sacrifice, say the DIC himself, would appease him.

Speaking of God, the other day I was sitting in my truck in the grocery store parking lot waiting for she who must not be mentioned here to get her coffee (we were on our way to the big city to get my Lupron shot for my prostate cancer, maybe another sign), when a nice young lady tapped on my window and asked my about my decal on my truck (a fish sign with legs and the words Darwin written across it).  She said in these troubled times (no shit) she was using her religion to try to comfort people.  She asked directly if I was an atheist, which I said yes, and she asked why.  You try to answer that in 10 words or less.  She asked if something had happened to me to reject God.  I thought about saying I think he has rejected us, but I did not.

I did try to explain to her that being an atheist does not mean, even in these times, that I do not have both spirituality and hope.  Isn’t life a gift enough without a fairy godfather?  But I also explained to her that I respected her faith and would never try to change that.  Atheism is not a religion, and I do not need converts, it is just my personal observation.  I know that faith and religion greatly helps some people and who the hell am I to try to take that away.  The nice thing about this encounter was that she was not trying to proselyze me, but to offer encouragement to someone who she thought may need it.  Her way was through her religious beliefs and some of the wisdoms she found in her Bible.

I bring all this up because when shit happens, people mostly seem to come together and try to help each other whether they are gay, transsexual, immigrant, conservative, liberal, black, white, atheist, Christian, Muslim, well, you get the gist.  God is not a player in that we want to help each other because it is innate in the human condition.  One person who was standing in the dust and ash of what was left of everything they owned, said, you can either stand here and grieve or help others.  What we should learn from these disasters is that either God doesn’t exist, or he doesn’t give a shit.  Either way we are left to our own devices and what I have seen is that those devices in most people are something to be proud of.

In this world we live in, a lot of us define ourselves by our possessions so when we have a devastating loss, well, we are devastated.  And then we seem to be able to rise above it.  And the lesson in a world created right now by the DIC and Republicans is, they have it wrong, we are all in this together and shit happens.  It has nothing to do with how hard we work, or what or who we believe in,  We live in a world where chaos is becoming more prevalent because of man’s selfish actions.  Time to maybe understand we really are our brother’s keeper.  And that my friends, from an atheist.

One other thing as I watch disaster, man-made in action.  A Republican was being interviewed by Andrea Mitchell about what is coming out about the DIC, the meeting where he wanted to know why we weren’t expanding our nuclear stockpile, the shock of those around him, the fucking moron comment by Rex Tillerson, and the tweet storm.  This guy tried to normalize it as well this happens in all administrations and needs to be kept behind closed doors.  No it doesn’t you Little Dotard (LD).  This is not normal.

In the same vein, on CNN they were discussing NBC’s reporting of the above and the DICs tweet this morning:

Some pundit when asked about the DIC’s threat to revoke the license on NBC because he does not like the story, said he was probably joking, to which the host, who had a clue, said president don’t joke about attacking the fundamental value to our democracy of the free press, and the pundit replied, well this is the new normal.  NO IT IS NOT YOU MORON! This is absolutely abnormal and it is how we lose democracy if you start defining it as normal.  We have to understand that our democracy is under attack from the Oval Office and we had better start coming together to fight it because the Republicans are normalizing it.

What a Raging Fire Looks Like

I don’t believe in God, but if you think it helps go right ahead.  These are the hottest fastest moving fires we have seen in California and there are lots of folks who are losing everything.  Global warming is just beginning to take its toll.

Is the World on Fire

That’s smoke from the Butte fire a few days ago from my backyard looking over my vineyard. This morning you cannot see the ridge line across the valley because the smoke is so thick.  The fire is at least 40 miles away, but now we live in deep smoke.  Last year it was the King fire that creeped within a mile of the house.  We are beginning to think this is the new normal for fall.  Ah, the refreshing smell of choking smoke.  It is the new world we are creating as we deny and fail to act on global warming.  This summer was the hottest on record beating last summer that was the hottest on record.  But I am wondering if this is not just a sign of the conflagrations of our times.

We like to think of ourselves as rational beings who control our path through life.  I think maybe this is a giant illusion.  We are the inmates that escaped the asylum. Starting close to home, local “moderate” Democrats are watering down California’s attempt to provide family leave for working families in an attempt to be business friendly.  They also have killed the major thrust of the Governor’s environmental bill when they would not go along with a 50% cut in the use of petroleum by 2030.  It would just be too hard on business.  I wonder how hard massive fires, drought, and heat is going to be on business.  Here is the problem with “moderate”, reasonable Democrats.  If it’s broken, half a fix won’t fix it.  That goes for families and family leaves as well as global warming.

Next let step up to national politics and look at the presidential election.  The Republicans are all calling for kicking out the professional politicians and electing them so they can institute the same conservative ideology that has failed us miserably.  Well kicking out the professional politicians is ringing a bell with the rabble and Donald, trust me, I am really smart, Trump is leading the pack with no workable plan for anything.  And the best part of this insanity, is that nothing is going to happen unless they change out the Republicans in Congress who they voted in, and are the real source of nothing getting done.

Oh, and this group of nuts wants to bring back Bible thumping government.  We need more religion in government.  The latest under the guise of religious freedom is a bill that:

 would bar the federal government from taking any discriminatory action — including the denial of tax benefits, grants, contracts or licenses — against those who oppose same-sex marriage for religious or moral reasons. In other words, it would use taxpayers’ money to negate federal anti-discrimination measures protecting gays and lesbians, using the idea of religious freedom as cover. … the measure’s broad language — which also protects those who believe that “sexual relations are properly reserved to” heterosexual marriages alone — would permit discrimination against anyone who has sexual relations outside such a marriage. That would appear to include women who have children outside of marriage, a class generally protected by federal law.”

This from our conservative nut jobs in the Congress who want to return us to the good old days of religious persecution and the people who just think the Donald is the bomb, put in office.

But to me the most disturbing sign that our civilization rests on sand foundations of our own illusions is what is going on right now in Europe with the refugees.  As pointed out by an illuminating article in the NYT we are seeing racism, xenophobia, and religious discrimination in primarily the countries of Eastern Europe, not far evolved from their communist roots:

When joining the European Union — as the former Communist countries have done since 2004 — nations are asked to pledge support to a raft of so-called European values, including open markets, transparent government, respect for an independent media, open borders, cultural diversity, protection of minorities and a rejection of xenophobia.

But the reality is that the former Communist states have proved sluggish in actually absorbing many of these values and practicing them. Oligarchs, cronyism and endemic corruption remain a part of daily life in many of the countries, freedom of the press is in decline while rising nationalism and populist political movements have stirred anti-immigrant tensions.

We have a refugee problem of epic proportions and yet it is somebody else’s problem, I got mine.  It is the root of our malaise that runs through all the insanity described above.

As I opined several days ago, what this crisis says for the world, is that we must become a more tolerant people who can tolerate other’s beliefs, safeguarding our own, but not using those beliefs to discriminate against others.  If Muslims want to live in the west, they can practice their religion within the constraints of our laws, without condemning the societies they live in.  If Christian conservatives want to live in a free society, they must be able to tolerate other beliefs (including gay marriage) and not try to take away those rights.  What we are seeing is that we have not evolve near as far as we thought.

Right now we are seeing rational thought (that would include science) being rejected for ideology and selfishness.  We are seeing religious intolerance being injected back into government under the guise of religious freedom as though we have learned nothing from our past.  And most importantly of all, we are seeing the tolerance and openness that has made our nation great, being attacked here, and the illusion of it elsewhere being exposed.  So are we on the wrong track?  Damn straight and we had better awake to our backsliding before we destroy our future.  Happy Sunday.

Thinking About Those 19 Firefighters

I can’t help thinking about those 19 who died in that fire in Arizona and wonder if it was worth the price. Actually I have no way to know, but my gut tells me it is never worth that kind of price. I, probably like most Americans, wonder why they died. What happened? How could it have been prevented? Could it have been prevented? Were the tactics and the danger worth what they were defending? Instead of trying to minimize a fire, maybe fall back and build better fire breaks in safer locations is the way to go. I have no idea and I certainly don’t know much about fighting fires. I just know that that price was too steep.

I know better people than I are looking into it and will be examining it from every angle. We do know these guys were professionals and I know what that means. You don’t do dangerous things unless you plan them to death. My family calls me the planning Nazi. It came from my days in the backseat of an F4 in the friendly skies of Southeast Asia. You reduce the risk and you have backup and escape plans. I know they trained, they planned, they had escape routes, and yet something went wrong. Was it avoidable or was it one of those 1 in 10,000 events? Even if it was a 1 in 10,000 events, was it worth the risk? We like to pretend that life is controllable, but maybe sometimes it is not.

Continue reading ‘Thinking About Those 19 Firefighters’ »