IN THE CLUTCH: A ROUGH GO FOR AN AMERICAN CONSCIENCE

It was pointed out to me this morning that there’s a lot we don’t know about the people who came before us.

How — why — they dressed and spoke and related to each other as people in their society. We are fuzzy about a lot of cultural material and mostly, we take our best guess as to what they were thinking as they lived from one day to the next in whatever capacity they lived it.

We have no clue about how our great-grandfather confessed his love to great-grandmother. We don’t know the words they used, or their tone of voice. We don’t know if their moment of passion happened at all. We don’t know because they left no evidence for us. They spoke differently, yet surely they held the same emotions we do — and we base all our fiction on that assumption. But of course, we could be entirely wrong. It’s just guesswork.

United States Slave Trade

On the other hand, we know precisely — anyone could know — that the people who drew up our Constitution understood how deeply wrong slavery was. They knew — fully and completely — failing to remove this horror would cause a war. A big war. Many expressed gratitude they would not live to see it.


They knew right from wrong.


They spent agonizing hours, weeks, months and years writing about it. Discussing it. Keeping notes about what they said and what others said. They didn’t for a minute think building a nation on slavery was “okay.” Abigail Adams, for one, didn’t want to live in the White House — not merely because it wasn’t finished, but because slaves built it. Yet without the compromise of making slaves three-fifths of a person — a person who would never vote or have anything to say about his own life — there would not have been a Constitution or a country. Getting the country to be a country was, ultimately, what mattered. Under this devil’s decision lay the future in which we are now living.


We didn’t get here by accident. It wasn’t one bad election or a few unfortunate choices. The path on which we are walking was being laid out for us before there was a United State. The issues we now face have always been there. 


For all the northern objections to slavery, it wasn’t as if there weren’t any slaves in New England or New York. Southern plantations bought slaves, but New England sea captains brought them here. The first port of call for southern slave owners were the slave markets of New York and New England. Until the Constitution when northern slavery was formally abolished, there were plenty of slaves up north, too.

About those Native Americans from whom we grabbed this land and who we slaughtered so we could keep it? Of course we knew it was wrong. Maybe not every unread slob understood it, but anyone with a modicum of education got it. We still know it, even if we have tried our best to tuck the information as far from “common knowledge” as we can. We don’t want to think about what we did to get this place — and what we are still doing.

Did our ancestors understand this?

Yes.

But you see — they wanted this country. They wanted it and they wanted it beyond any moral compunctions. If that mean slaughtering entire tribes — see Andrew Jackson for more on that — so be it. Why should “those savages” get this rich and beautiful country? They didn’t deserve it. It should be ours. To make this righteous, we made up a bunch of crap about white being better than not white, but we didn’t get that from anyone’s religion. We quite simply made it up because we needed to believe it.

So, as has happened throughout history, we did what we wanted. We took everything, killed anyone who got in our way and have more less continued to do that ever since. Was it the first or last time an invading group of foreigners stole a nation from its native inhabitants? Obviously not.


I do not buy any concept which says “we didn’t understand what we were doing.” We knew just fine. Our ancestors — your ancestors — might not have talked the way we do, but they were much better at acknowledging good and evil. 


Again: How do we know this? Let me reiterate.

They wrote about it. At great length. In documents, diaries, letters, newspapers, and books. We don’t have to guess: they told us. Whether or not great granddad Josiah proposed in flowery English to great grandma Elizabeth may be a guess, but that Josiah thought our behavior toward slaves and Natives was wrong — we do know that.

What a great job we’ve done with the place!

The reason the Trump White House can do what it is doing is because there is so much hatred in this country. All he needed to do was play to the haters and leave the windows open. We don’t know what our so-called “leaders” believe, but we know who and what they hate. I don’t care in how many other countries this same ugly scene is happening. That doesn’t justify it happening here. If the whole world needs to clean up its act? So be it.


The majority is not necessarily right.


For my entire life, I believed this country — my country — was getting better. Was becoming more of what it said it wanted to be. That we were struggling, but trying to become a moral light in the world. I’m not seeing that anymore. Not on a national level. Are there many individuals who are still fighting the good fight? Sure. But nationally, as a nation, that isn’t what I see. I cannot begin to tell you how deeply disturbing I find this.

How is your conscience doing these days? Having a bit of a rough patch?

GEOENGINEERING AND THE CLIMATE CRISIS – J. R. LINCE- HOPKINS

Rex Tillerson clearly stated his views of climate change during remarks in 2012 at an event sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations.

“And as human beings as a — as a — as a species, that’s why we’re all still here. We have spent our entire existence adapting, OK? So we will adapt to this. Changes to weather patterns that move crop production areas around — we’ll adapt to that. It’s an engineering problem, and it has engineering solutions. And so I don’t — the fear factor that people want to throw out there to say we just have to stop this, I do not accept.”

earthwrenchGeoengineering now seems to have become the de facto climate policy of the Trump White House and the GOP as they, on the one hand, deny the apparent fact of climate change, and on the other hand, prepare to fight it by employing poorly tested technology with unknown long-term effects!

In Conservative circles, seductive but superficial reasoning exists for geoengineering being so popular.  One is that on a large-scale, it can make several corporations and individuals very rich.  Another is that the effects of carbon based fuels can be downplayed by government and industry now.  After all, any atmospheric heating caused by burning fossil fuels and a buildup of carbon dioxide can be minimized by employing geoengineering technologies.  In short, the current state of Conservative thinking, Jobs, jobs, jobs translates into burn, burn, burn.

Globally, the atmospheric carbon dioxide level reached 403 ppm this year (it held between 180 ppm and 290 ppm for the previous 800,000 years).  Even so, fossil fuels still reign supreme as the power source of world economies.  With no end in sight for the abatement of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels or the employment of alternative/renewable power sources, carbon dioxide levels will continue to rise.  Planet cooling by geoengineering will just mask the warming effects of elevated carbon dioxide levels.  At some point, as yet undetermined, Earth will depend upon geoengineering to remain within livable limits.  It is apparent that once we are hooked on geoengineering in a world with high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, any cessation of geoengineering efforts will be accompanied by rapid and severe global climate changes to unacceptable levels.

Obviously, clear thinking is in short supply.  At best, geoengineering is the environmental equivalent of the opioid crisis and at its worst it is applied asininity, if not a downright “Faustian Bargain” of epic proportions.

If you want deeper insight into geoengineering and the climate emergency, please read the following:

https://cleantechnica.com/2017/11/09/new-computer-modeling-helps-scientist-analyze-effects-geoengineering

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article183547911.html

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/11/02/561608576/massive-government-report-says-climate-is-warming-and-humans-are-the-cause

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/11/08/pruitt-says-alarming-climate-report-not-deter-replacement-clean-power-plan/839857001

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/06/how-indias-battle-with-climate-change-could-determine-all-of-our-fates

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/08/seven-megatrends-that-could-beat-global-warming-climate-change

https://qz.com/index/1116160/for-800000-years-carbon-dioxide-levels-moved-between-180-ppm-and-290-ppm-last-year-they-got-to-403-ppm/

Please address comments to the original publishing blog at: https://gordoncstewart.com/2017/11/13/geoengineering-and-the-climate-crisis/

COME MONDAY, IT WILL BE ALRIGHT – RICH PASCHALL

Not just another day in the Life of Harold by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Upon awakening Harold went immediately to the window to check the weather.  He was instantly aware that it was grayer than normal for that time of day. He needed to decide on his schedule for the morning.

There was no putting off decisions until later.  His orderly life demanded plans be set and executed precisely. Since rain was falling, Harold knew that he’d follow breakfast and some newspaper reading with a trip to town for some shopping. His lists were made; he was ready to go.

When it was almost 9 am, Harold grabbed his lists, a light jacket and umbrella and headed for the back door to the garage. Just as he was about to grab the door knob he was startled by the telephone ringing. He could not imagine who in the world might be calling him. There were no friends or relatives to call. There were no appointments scheduled for someone to needlessly remind him of attending. He figured it might be a telemarketer and while such calls were a total waste of time to Harold, he decided to make sure that is who it was.

“Hello,” Harold said tentatively as if he was not sure anyone would actually be on the line.  “This is Harold.”  He automatically announced his name as it was an ingrained practice from his many years on the job.

“Hello Harold,” a cheery voice responded. “This is your neighbor, Bill. You know, the guy down the street.”

When Harold had first moved to the Florida community, Bill had come by and introduced himself. Harold had stood on the walkway watching his goods being unloaded by the movers. Bill offered to help anytime Harold needed it and suggested they exchanged numbers in case of emergency.

“Us old guys have to look out for each other,” Bill declared.

So Harold exchanged numbers with Bill though he thought it was most unlikely they would ever use the numbers.

“Oh,” Harold said hesitantly, “I was just on the way out to the store.”

“I recall you said Monday was for shopping and I thought we could go together and then you don’t have to drive,” Bill replied.

75-MiniMallPoster-CR-12

“I see, but I really need to go now as I have a schedule to keep today.”  Harold had a schedule to keep everyday. It was the only way he could maintain contentment in his life –and contentment was everything.

“That’s OK,” Bill told Harold in a continued bright and sunny tone which bubbled over despite the unpleasant weather, “I’ll be there in 10 minutes.”

Harold had no idea how to respond to that. It was so rare for anything to impose itself on the master scheduler’s day. “I guess,” Harold said with surprise in his voice, “But I’m really ready to go now.”

“No problem,” came the reply and Bill hung up the phone. If anyone had been present, they’d have seen a remarkable look of surprise on the face of a man who never did anything spontaneously, even when it fit perfectly into his rigid schedule.

In less than 10 minutes, Bill was in Harold’s driveway giving a quick blast on the horn of his brown Chevy Malibu.  Harold emerged from the side door and moved toward Bill’s car as the light rain fell.  “Where to?” Bill asked.

“I normally go to the Publix, but if you don’t want to go…”

“The Publix it is,” Bill said, cutting off Harold’s attempt to back out. At that Bill proceeded to talk his way to the Publix parking lot. He told Bill all about his first marriage, which ended after a few stormy years. Then he told of his long dedication to the love of his life, who was now gone but would always hold’s Bill’s affection. He talked about his dog, his friends, his family in Tennessee, his work life and a variety of topics that left Harold’s brain in a whirl.

From there the two proceeded to shop their way around the giant supermarket. While Harold worked on a shopping list laid out according to the design of the store, Bill seemed to wander aimlessly, picking up items at random. When Harold was finished and through the check out line, Bill was just getting to a cashier.

Harold looked at Bill’s cart and wondered how anyone could spend so much time shopping for so few items. Unless Bill had a good supply of food items at home already, he would certainly have to go shopping a second time this same week. To Harold, that seemed awfully wasteful.

On the trip home, Bill continued telling Harold the story of his life. Harold, on the other hand, couldn’t imagine he had anything significant to add to the conversation. Mostly he confined himself to monosyllabic responses to Bill’s stories.

Harold took his groceries into his kitchen with an assist from Bill, after which the neighbor was quickly on his way.  “Perhaps we can do this again next week,” Bill said as he left. Harold had no idea what to say. He couldn’t imagine another such trip, though there was nothing wrong with the shopping adventure. It was just … different.

After putting away his supplies, Harold looked at the clock and to his surprise, he was right on schedule. It really didn’t seem possible, but Harold’s clock never lied.

To be continued…


The character of Harold previously appeared in “Soup and Sandwich” and “The Case With The Missing Egg.”

PORTRAITS – KAITY IN BLACK & WHITE

Cee’s Black and White Challenge Today


Secrets in her eyes

It wasn’t a big photographic day. More like an eating day. But I did get a few portraits of Kaity, my granddaughter. In black & white, because she loves black & white photography.

Kaity – Thanksgiving 2017

GOOGLE BUMPS

For my first three years of blogging, I got around 100, then 200, then 250 to 300 views per day. In year four, it slid up to around 350 to 400. Where it stayed, showing a gradual, slow but steady upward movement with occasional shots of one post being exceptionally popular.

At the beginning of this year, we started getting more than 400 regularly. Which was — I thought — phenomenal. On October 10, 2017, something else happened. Suddenly, we shot upward to 500 and started getting bumps to 700 and 800. But the funny thing was, the regular posts were not doing better than usual. They were doing pretty much the same as they always been.

It was a “Google” bump. For no reason, Google had found us and we were getting hundreds of hits. It kept going up until it hit 1400 in the beginning of November. Which was crazy. Blogs like this don’t get those numbers. It stayed up there for a few days, then started to drop.

I did not expect it to stay in those numbers. The archives were getting all the action. Old blogs were being read by a lot of people — which was fun — but I knew it would not last.

Stat bumps are not “normal” growth. Somehow, some way, your blog gets picked up by Google or some other search engine. For a while, everyone who looks for something finds you at the top of the list, so thousands of people come and read archived posts. Some visitors will sign on and become regulars, but most will show up once, maybe twice, then disappear. They came to see one post, maybe read a second one while they were at it, but your “real” daily numbers haven’t changed. Without the input from Google — or whatever search engine found you — you are right where you were before the bump. It’s a bit startling and dramatic when all that activity drops off — and you are left with your normal feedback. Even though you knew it wouldn’t last, you sort of hoped it would.

Sure enough, we dropped back to pretty much where we were before the big bump. Riding “high” was fun, but it isn’t realistic. We are not a news service and we don’t get huge numbers of readers for posts.

The thing is, blogging is not about statistics, unless for you it’s a business. It’s communication with the people who follow you. You follow them, they follow you. You feed each other ideas and give each other encouragement. The actual writing of a blog is only half the fun. The rest is people and relationships. The ideas you get from reading other people’s material.

Also — popularity isn’t always as much fun as you think it will be. I spend a huge amount of time writing, photographing, processing pictures. Keeping track of what’s scheduled. I answer all my comments and sometimes, I end up using a full day just answering comments. It is fun — but it eats a lot of time and it’s hard to find room for other things.

Luckily, I don’t have that much else to do. Usually.

With a few exceptions, I’ve talked to the entire world!

Like other people who blog a lot, I love it. I love the people, the ideas, the stimulation. I don’t get out into the world the way I did when I was younger. If it weren’t for blogging, I’d be isolated and probably lonely.

The thing to remember, for all of us, is statistics bounce around. A great few months can be followed — entirely unexpectedly — by a serious drop in readership. Why? People move on. WordPress messes with the software and you lose a few thousand followers. And sometimes, you hit a lull. If you aren’t blogging for the numbers — if you are doing it because you genuinely love writing or posting pictures or whatever it is you do — then a drop in your stats doesn’t change anything.

Remind me of that the next time I lose 800 views a day — in one night!