Charles M. Blow: War as Political Weapon

From the NY Times: https://nyti.ms/2oQuaL8

Like everyone else, I reacted with rage and horror at another chemical attack in Syria. I felt desperate for action – this has got to stop. We need to do something.

I still feel that way. Part of me cheers the American attack. The rest of me is deeply suspicious of DT’s motives. He doesn’t give a damn about those “beautiful babies,” but this was great for distraction from serious investigations and for propping up ratings. And an even better excuse to increase the war budget.

What I really wish the world would do, is put an end to idea of “sovereign nation.” It is always used as an excuse to let violent men destroy innocent people. “Oh my, no… we CAN’T interfere. It’s THEIR country!”

Bull-shit.

We need hard-and-fast rules that all countries and all monarchs and all politicians must adhere to, and that are enforceable by a strong central body made up with representatives from all countries.

Sort of like the U.N.

For most purposes, there’s no reason for interference in any country’s operations. But when violence is happening, when people are fleeing their homes to escape imprisonment, torture, death…, that is the time for interference. No regime, in any country anywhere, has the right to create such a situation within its borders. If they do, the world steps in, with unity and force. Such a ruler must be deposed immediately. We can’t leave a vacuum – new leaders must be established with constant supervision. A clear method must be in place for the people of that country to replace the temporary government with one they establish. And it has to be the government the PEOPLE choose, which may not be the one we would prefer. It just cannot be another government that will incite new violence.

I know this is vague and idealistic. If humans ever decide they want real peace and prosperity, I’ll be happy to help work out the details.

Views from My Hotel Window

John Scalzi frequently posts photos of the view from his various hotel windows, and it’s one of my favorite categories of his blog. Travel is often about the highlights of a given place, but hotel windows do not always look out on the best a city has to offer. It’s like the difference between watching a high-end runway fashion show, and people-watching at the local mall. You see all kinds of things.

My recent trip involves a different kind of “hotel” and features views with a mix of the local mall-type spots, tourist spots, and the best of nature. We were on a cruise through the Panama Canal. My hotel window is the view from our balcony. We didn’t have internet on the ship, so you’re getting all of it at once – a selection of the best. I’ll come back in another post with more photos of the trip.

Starting at the beginning: Leaving Ft. Lauderdale.

View from HW - PCC Ft. Lauderdale.jpg

Below is a day at sea – I think we’re in the Caribbean by now. A few whitecaps show things were a little bouncy, which usually means good sleeping for me.

View from HW - PCC Mar 2 at sea

The next two photos are the port in Aruba, which is kind of touristy AND local mall-ish. Of course, ports are working places for the movement of cargo and people. Aesthetics is not the primary purpose.

View from HW - PCC Mar 3 Aruba

View from HW - PCC Mar 3 Aruba 2

Below are a couple pictures showing our approach to Cartegana, Columbia. The city and bay are stunning as you come in.

View from HW - PCC Mar 4 CarteganaView from HW - PCC Mar 4 Cartegana 2

This is a picture of Lake Gatun, at the top of the Panama Canal. I have LOTS of pictures of the canal, but not many from our stateroom. We spent most of the day out on deck watching our passage through the locks. It was beyond fascinating. Lake Gatun is the middle passage – after the first locks have raised the ship, we sail across the lake to the locks that will lower the ship down to the Pacific. The city in the distance is Panama City.

View from HW - PCC Mar 6 Lake Gatun

A sunset picture. We were lucky to be on the port side of the ship and were facing west as we sailed up the coast of Central America. The sunsets were spectacular.

View from HW - PCC Mar 7

View from HW - PCC March 12View from HW - PCC March 11

I missed getting pictures of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. We sailed into Costa Rica before I was awake and it was dark, anyway. The captain canceled our stop in Nicaragua due to rough seas at the port.

Our next port was Cabo San Lucas. I took this as we approached – a picture of the famous Arch Rock. You might have to expand the photo to see the arch.

View from HW - PCC Mar 12 Cabo And finally, our return home. Another working port, but a great view on a foggy morning. Time to get the jackets back out!

View from HW - PC cruise

A Guest Post: #Voice for the Voiceless, 1

For this post, I’m starting something different. There is someone I know whose life is a testament to struggle, bad choices, and pain. It is not pretty. It is not easy. But I want to give her a voice. So as often as she can write something, I’m going to post it here. These posts will always appear under the heading you see above: #Voice for the Voiceless.

I will not edit the posts unless she asks me to. This is her life and I don’t want my edits to add or detract from that. For her safety – and frankly, for mine, too – she will remain anonymous.

There is no order or reason to the posts. These are her thoughts. Her life. My blog is simply a vehicle.

_______________________________________________________

#Voice for the Voiceless, 1

Thank you for the listings. I contacted them myself, as well as many others. Also, the woman has done this as well and is on many waiting lists.  As she puts it, the funding is there but the actual services never come through. In fact Alameda County has a homeless information system they us to streamline homeless services and homeless clients. If they contact one program, they contact them all. Yet the agencies are simply not meeting the needs. In Berkeley alone there are over 300 homeless Families. Not singles. Families. Yet Berkeley has shut down almost all of its family shelters. I believe as of January there is only one shelter that accepts mothers and children. And they only have room for 4 of that family type. Berkeley recieved more bulk grants and funds than any other city in Alameda County. For families.
The numbers in Oakland are even higher. Sadly, the few places that take children do not take both parents as well. None take fathers and children. Or thebshelters are in communities where you might as well give up living unless you have a car a job a house and retirement package. So if you get blessed with a shelter spot, and you have a whole family unit, that unit either separates or stays on the streets.
According to the Federal government, Alameda County failed to disperse services to homeless that YOUR TAX DOLLARS paid for. Quite simply, those funds went to alameda county paychecks instead of where they were supposed to. As of January 2017 our county was ORDERED TO CORRECTLY DISTRIBUTE THOSE FUNDS TO THOSE IN NEED. They were told to literally go find the homeless and give them exactly what they shouldve already recieved. Real help.
This woman in particular has been severely traumatized, both physically and emotionally. She was assaulted in our city of Oakland, and then left to survive on the streets with her baby. Not one of the city, county, state or federally ran services aided her. I asked for evidence of this and she gave it to me. That homeless information system, has her listed as an automatic denial for services. Her and 800 other homeless people. Automatically denied aid. No reason. Services get the tax money, and pay themselves or put in “trust funds for the future”. What right do they have, not spending the money on the exact things its given to them for, at the exact time its given to them?
Honestly I believe that this woman was so severely wronged by society, that, we her society owe her an apology, among other things. Not every homeless person on the steeets is choosing to be there. Not all of them are junkies and indigents. In reality there are hundreds that quietly hide in the shadows and try to blend in with us, hoping to one day return to being, us. She is one of the few I have found that does not hide and is not quietly hiding from our eyes.
Her sign says it and when her child is out there with her, you hear it even more loudly. Alameda County, Oakland, Berkeley, if we dont like the homeless problem, we need to start fixing it now. She doesntbneed shelter information. She needs a home. A stable solid building that her son can believe he belongs in. Studio apartments, small single level homes with a yard. Not expensive. Not hard to build. Easily self maintained by the tenant. Lived by the family in it.thats what my hometown streets should look like. My tax dollars got used up by somebodys greedy budget. Now my streets have a partially blind mother with a very young little child, living among the needles and trash of all the others that were ignored. If each of us takes a small personal stance and a bigger public stance to help her and others like her, things might someday calm down. Ignore her and read her or her childs obituary someday soon. Or worse step over that pile of trash and realize its not trash. It might end up being them.
I hope that when you read this, you dont take offense. Just understand that reality isnt what it seems. Its more sick and sad and almost always, the chaos is caused by greed.
At least acknowledge her with gentleness.

 

Healthcare: How to Get There from Here

This article, We all Want Healthcare to Cost Much Less – But We are Asking the Wrong Questions, by Joe Flower, is just about perfect in its analysis of the problem. I encourage everyone to read it.

I have always believed that we need health CARE, as opposed to health INSURANCE. This has led me to advocate for a single-payer system that does away with insurance companies. Mr. Flowers does not quite go there in his argument, but it’s not really his point, anyway. He goes a step further: how to go from a profit-driven and highly wasteful, inefficient system, to one that promotes the best health of each individual? What are the steps we take? What happens in the transition?

In short: what do we pay for?

Therein lies the rub, folks.

Comments? What do you think?

 

Oh My, Look at the Time

I’m on the third night of Very Poor Sleep. I’ve been awake since 2:00, just like last night. Yes, I tried meditating, counting my slow, deep breaths, muscle relaxation, and pretty much anything else they claim is useful. I don’t drink coffee after 10:00 a.m. and I almost never drink alcohol anymore. I don’t/can’t nap during the day. I stay off of electronic devices after dinner and do gentle stretches and relaxation poses before bed. There is no TV in my bedroom. Yet in the middle of the night, adrenaline courses through my veins no matter what I do, and now I’m up talking to you.

This is my Normal. It has been for almost 20 years, so no, this is not a result of recent stresses. It would be nice if I were one of those people who happily function on 4 hours of sleep a night. In a way, I do function all right – I always get through the day, usually get a few things done, and feel mostly okay. But years of this are taking a toll. My memory is much worse. I can’t write fiction anymore and you’ve probably noticed the scarcity of blog posts over the last year. It has become a challenge to organize my thoughts and write something coherent. Often I start a post and give up in frustration because I’m not making sense even to myself.

Maybe I should resort to Twitter.

There’s no real point to all of this. Consider it a case a weary mumbling and go on with your day.

How did y’all sleep last night?

 

Pardon My Moment of Despair

I’m awake in the dark night and this time, it’s fear that’s keeping me up. I feel foolish admitting it, but I am sick with worry about our future. The new administration and the extreme politicians that have been given control of our country are wasting no time in implementing their plans to destroy us. We will soon have no good schools for our children, no health care, no way for our daughters to prevent unwanted sex, no way to protect themselves from pregnancy, no way to save themselves when pregnancies go wrong.

Jobs will pay only slave wages, with no protection regarding overwork or unsafe conditions. Our water and air will become dirty and unsafe. Extreme weather, warming and rising oceans, and our newly unregulated industrial pollutants will combine to destroy our societies. Hopelessness will be the spirit of our lives, and we will no longer have a government that represents us, giving us no way to change things.

Most of this will not affect you if you are rich, but “rich” will have to be very rich. Even those of us who are “well off” will not have enough money to live well. Everything – schools, health care, adequate food, public services, government representation –  will be for sale to the highest bidder.

The people doing this are filled with hatred. They blame us for our own struggles and mock us for our despair. They have all the power now, and they want more of both power and money. They will not stop until they have it.

Perhaps I am losing my mind. I am angry and afraid and weak. But I don’t see a way back from this. People think things will be okay, or even better, but they are wrong. The men in power have no care for people, only control. The changes they are implementing will lead to a dark age for this country, and possibly the world.

I know that my despair is not the answer. I don’t plan on just giving up. But I am so afraid.

 

Week 10: Amy Siskind Lists Subtle Changes Toward Tyranny

Here’s your link for the most recent list of subtle changes taking place in our world, right before our eyes.

I am reminded of “Shock and Awe.” Only this time it’s being used against us. These lists are frequent and they are long. We are being lambasted daily, indeed hourly, with changes that in many cases, offer real threat to our existence. It is impossible to remember them all. It is impossible to maintain the outrage each one deserves.

Please don’t mock me by saying I’m a timid old woman afraid of change. People who know me will laugh you out of the room. I agitate for many changes to our lifestyles and politics and economy. So much is wrong, from the laws on the books, to the common practices, to the philosophies behind them.

But I will fight against change that sets up authoritarianism in our country. Yes, I’m afraid of those changes. They will destroy us.

 

Here’s a Good Description of a Workable Food System

Let me repost this blog for your reading pleasure. Chew on this idea: https://medium.com/@cnative100/vegetarian-diets-are-not-going-to-save-the-planet-4f50d0c1f8cf#.r6ef0ib8i

I think there’s a bit of unnecessary snarkiness in the article, but the idea is exactly right, if you couple it with Pollan’s mantra: “Eat real food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”

A side benefit of this kind of food system is reduced diabetes, reduced heart disease, reduced obesity, reduced cancer, and reduced other autoimmune disorders. Which means cheaper health care.

How can that be bad?

 

So It Begins

The first announcement by the new press secretary begins the official pull-the-wool-over-their-eyes of the new administration: http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/wh-spokesman-gave-alternative-facts-inauguration-crowd-n710466. It’s pretty sad that it had to be about a silly, unimportant non-issue. The size of the inauguration crowd? That’s your first official lie? Seriously?

Please note: lies are now called “alternative facts.”

From now on, news will be what Trump says it is. Facts are only facts if he approves them. Legitimacy only exists at his say-so. His followers will loudly insist his truth is truly true, and the rest of us only hate and envy him.

Okay.

I do not see how a democratic country can survive this. When truth and lies switch places, and trust no longer exists, there is no recovery.

Perhaps the next generation, or the one after that, will be able to rise above it and bring the country back to sanity. I’m sure people despaired of life ever recovering from the destruction of WWII, yet the following generations worked and scraped and built a better world.

The new world never did come close to perfection, and now we’ve lost much of it, with the rest of it ready to fall to Europe’s new nationalism. But for a while there was real hope and real progress.

We need to tell that to our children and grandchildren. I’ve even got a great-grandchild who needs to know that truth is not what the new language says it is. They need to know that their elders screwed up their world and that if falls to them to fix it.

I don’t mean to say that we elders can just sit back and let the liars hang on to the golden ring. Not at all. We must never stop declaring the facts that are actually facts, and we must prove to our progeny that we will fight alongside them until we are dead.

But it will be up to a new generation to forge trust with each other, at a time when the pain and anger has faded somewhat.

Ours is lost.

 

 

 

Science Fiction and Fantasy Author

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