Tuesday’s Quote #15 – on willful ignorance…

“I am patient with stupidity, but not with those who are proud of it”

— Edith Sitwell

Edith Sitwell was a well-titled, eccentric, British poet and literary critic, who died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 77 in 1964. Fewer words ring more true for me these days.

When I look at the news, and see that so many people absolutely refuse to let established facts disrupt their belief system, I get very frustrated. And I get frightened – what the hell are we leaving our children and grandchildren?

When ‘news’ broadcasts continue to treat climate science as debatable. Or refuse to distinguish climate from weather. When legislators continue to argue evolution as only a ‘theory’ because no one wants to acknowledge the scientific definition of a theory. Nor have they apparently heard of antibiotic resistant bacteria – or how it got that way. Strange that I was raised Roman Catholic, in Cathoic schools, and somehow, I learned Genesis, and I learned evolutionary biology – the two really don’t have to be contradictory.

When the US Supreme Court rules that a Corporation can act based on its, scientifically inaccurate, medial views, and what that means for it from a religious perspective – it has not only declared that corporate entities are people, but that they can hold religious views as well, and don’t need to be too concerned with facts – we may have carried Corporate Citizenship to a dangerous new extreme.

And anti-vaccination proponents still manage to get news time. Parental rights? I (almost) respectfully disagree – public health needs really do win out here. Don’t want a flu shot, don’t get one. But measles, polio, rubella? The risks to your children, and especially to other people, is simply too great to choose to disregard. Societies exist for the support of all members. It’s why they form, and how they flourish. There is zero scientific basis for the anti-vaccination rhetoric out there – but there are still too many, well-meaning, affluent, and well-educated, people out there that refuse to be swayed by any facts that they are presented with (since facts themselves are apparently part of a larger conspiracy benefitting big pharma). And an alarming number of people who have no qualms at all about voicing their lack of concern for other people. Then move into a completely closed community and never travel outside of it, or let anyone else in. The world is too small for you to be that narcissistic. Or stupid.

When politicians have the incomprehensible audacity to require that doctors perform transvaginal ultrasounds on pregnant women seeking terminations – in spite of the fact the there is absolutely no medical reason. And don’t seem to be embarrassed by asking a doctor, in a public hearing, whether a woman could swallow a remote camera to test a pregnancy? Sorry, folks – the fact that the reproductive system is NOT a part of the digestive system is something most children learn in elementary school science class. Enough people voted for these people that they are responsible for making the laws that you will have to follow. Good luck with that.

When Cliven Bundy can be hailed as a hero for threatening an armed uprising to defend his refusal to either pay for grazing on federal land or to stop grazing on federal land, but the landowners in Nebraska had to go to court to stop Trans-Canada from taking their land for the Keystone Pipeline – which is a private enterprise benefiting none of the landowners – they were reviled as obstructionist.

When Sarah Palin, who has frequently made little sense in the last few years, can deliver an astonishingly incoherent speech, raise an equally astonishing amount of money from it, and express shock that anyone think she wouldn’t be a serious contender for the White House? Maybe we should be worried that she might be. Who the hell are these people giving her money and encouraging her, anyway?

Stupid seems to be in these days. And we’re damn proud of it. So proud that we will continue to elect people at the local, state, and national levels, that seem to be under the impression that refusing to adjust an opinion in the face of opposing facts is a sign of weakness.  And we are making our voting decisions based largely on well-funded fear-mongering that is using our own prejudices, and legitimate fears, to keep us focused on single, tightly drawn wedge issues, so that we don’t get distracted by any other issues, or facts.  I’m reminded of Spiro Agnew and the disdain for the ‘effete intellectuals’ – why confuse anything with facts?

And the photo? – An endless highway shot seemed quite appropriate to accompany my rant. In the immortal words of Bob Dylan:

“I’m walking down that long lonesome road, babe. Where I’m bound, I can’t tell.”

Okay, well, driving, on I40 East near Gallup, NM, in August 2013, but you get the point…

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Not Daylight Saving Time again…

“You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe “Daylight Saving Time.”

— Dave Barry

My least favorite time, of my least favorite season, has arrived – the beginning of the ever-expanding construct known as Daylight Saving Time. Not only do I dislike it because I hate giving back that hour of sleep – to be honest, I hated that more when I was in my early twenties and had a part-time job that required working on Sunday mornings – but I dislike it as a parent, who hated the battle of getting young children to reset their internal clocks, and having to get older children out the door to their own part-time Sunday morning jobs, but I really dislike it because it serves absolutely no useful purpose. And yet, the US Congress, in an occasional attempt to pretend to do something, will extend it as a part of one energy bill or another (now it runs more than half the year).

The logic behind it, initially as a way of shifting extra daylight into the evening hours – may have had some practical applications when the country was largely agrarian, and may possibly have some benefit if we assume that people will do more outside activities in the evenings. At the time that Benjamin Franklin advocated for it, the assumption was that no one was up early enough on summer mornings to make use of the earlier daylight. Ah – but I am, and based on the highways, so are many, many other people. There have been conflicting studies over the last forty years, but there is some indication that we use less oil, presumably in the colder climates, during DST, and possibly even enough to offset the fact that we need to use more in the mornings to deal with the lack of sunlight. But, as we become an increasingly global society, our work hours, and lifestyles, have changed, and there have been several studies done in the past ten years that indicate that any energy savings are negligible, and that electricity usage may actually increase during DST partially because of an increased need for air conditioning later in the day. And interestingly enough, a 2014 study done based on data from the, government funded, American Time Use Survey indicates that during DST people sleep less overall, and do use more energy for both heating (mornings) and cooling (evenings), as well as for lighting. My suspicion is that increased evening activity also correlates to increased gasoline consumption as we drive to the places where we can participate in our evening outdoor activities. But that might just be me.

More importantly, there are studies that indicate that DST causes a decrease in worker productivity that last longer than the day of the change. We simply do not recover from the lost hour of sleep that quickly. And out circadian rhythm is tuned to the sun – we want to sleep when it isn’t there, and be awake when it is – anyone who has worked night shifts knows this. Sleeping in the daylight is hard, waking up in the dark might even be harder. If we aren’t getting sufficient rest, we are tired, do not concentrate well, make mistakes, and we can negatively impact our health.

I hope that someday sanity will prevail, and the rest of the US will join Arizona and Hawaii in no longer observing DST.

The image is, of course, Salvador Dali’s painting “The Persistence Of Memory”, painted in 1931. My favorite clock painting.

Winter

The photo above was taken last month on a bright, clear morning (somewhat rare this winter). It reminds me that winter scenes can be beautiful.

Today, of course, is dreary, gray, cold, and a bit snowy. Thankfully (for me), the worst of this storm is to the south of here, so we won’t get any accumulation. But the temperatures will be falling all day.

Just to remind myself that perspective is everything..

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness”

— John Steinbeck

Dying Man, 24, Leaves an Awesome Message That Everyone Should Read:

such a sad situation, but such a great message about life.

Kindness Blog

funeral tieSoon I Will be Gone Forever, but That’s Okay as Long as Someone Reads This.

I am only 24 years old, yet I have actually already chosen my last tie. It’s the one that I will wear on my funeral (above) a few months from now. It may not match my suit, but I think it’s perfect for the occasion.

The cancer diagnosis came too late to give me at least a tenuous hope for a long life, but I realized that the most important thing about death is to ensure that you leave this world a little better than it was before you existed with your contributions . The way I’ve lived my life so far, my existence or more precisely the loss of it, will not matter because I have lived without doing anything impactful.

Before, there were so many things that occupied my mind. When I learned…

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Tuesday’s Quotes #14

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

— William Arthur Ward

Being a pragmatist, but still human, I complain about the wind while adjusting the sails – and hope it doesn’t change after I’ve set them.

Now, if only I could do something about the seemingly endless snow…

Wow – we finally made it to March!

Now – if only the weather would improve (instead it’s snowing – AGAIN). And with the snow, and the cold, came the inevitable – someone (in this case my husband) finally fell on the ice that we’ve been unable to lose in our driveway. Thankfully, he’s fine, but concussed and bruised and not too clear on the fall itself, so mercifully we spent very little time in the ER this morning. But it’s added to my general winter malaise (because this is my blog, after all, and it really is about me). And then, in the ER there was little else to do but watch the Sunday morning news/commentary that I generally avoid like the plague – I prefer to read & digest it all myself, thank you. And I had been up for over four hours with no caffeine. So, here we are…. Fed, caffeinated, and ready to tackle some of the sillier things that I’ve seen in the news recently (and by silly, I probably mean pathetic).

I figure I may as well start big. The Department of Homeland Security has been funded for one more week. We were, of course, hoping for three more weeks, since a loud and well-funded handful of Tea Party Republican Representatives refused to allow a clean annual funding bill (i.e – one with no other bills attached), and the Senate Republicans offered up a clean three week compromise that was also shot down on Friday. Somehow we got clean funding for a week, but the battle will obviously continue this week, and the divisions in the Republican party should make everyone – including the majority of Republicans, very nervous. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), a man not known for his moderate views on immigration, said that the Republican majority in the House of Representatives needs to take a firm stand, with the Speaker of the House, to make it clear to the 40 or 50 more extreme Republican House members that DHS cannot be made a political issue. He’s absolutely correct – too bad that immediately prior to the vote, much of what he said seemed to give the opposite impression. Glad he woke up, but seriously… The majority of Republicans in the House have failed to rein in the minority extremists previously. That is the primary reason we have a Congress that has done nothing for the last several years. We keep electing people that don’t particularly like the government, or governing, do not seem to understand what it is that the Legislative brach of our government is supposed to do, and who absolutely refuse to compromise in their apparent quest to take us back to the some highly idealized prior point in history that likely never existed. Gerrymandering is the reason why they keep getting elected, and polling would seem to indicate that the side they are on is largely their own. But Congressional redistricting is another topic. For now, I just hope that the Republican Party can relocate its center before they implode and take the rest of the country with them.

“The problem of power is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use — of how to get men of power to live for the public rather than off the public.”

— Robert Kennedy

Which brings me to the Federal Communications Commissions happy vote to protect Net Neutrality. You would have thought that this would be less controversial, but nope – there has been much hysteria over the high cost of this effort, that it is of questionable legality, that it will hurt consumers, that the government is incapable of regulating anything. Most of this hysteria was funded by the telecommunications industry, who (surprise!) would much rather be able to recoup their costs under a pay to play system. Two problems immediately come to mind with that notion: 1) they all own content providers (but they can be trusted not to play favorites), and 2) smaller content providers & web service providers (no, Google, I don’t include you here) would suffer under a pay to play system. Rather than encouraging free market competition and improving costs, any other outcome would have stifled competition and done nothing to reduce costs (and then, like the banks, they’d become too big too fail)  Since our noble broadband providers have already been caught screwing with download speeds, and failing to deliver on network expansion, and actively stifling competition by lobbying for state laws preventing communities from setting up independent broadband networks, I think it is apparent that they cannot be trusted to do the right thing. In a clever, but disturbing, response to the FCC’s vote, Verizon published printed morse code (with a translation available in a typewriter font dated 1934). I thought it was incredibly immature, personally (clever, yes, but also immature). And it really does bother me. When corporations publish responses like this, are we really supposed to trust them to behave responsibly without regulations?

Less well-know, the FCC also issued regulations that will allow cities, like Chattanooga, TN, to set up independent broadband networks in spite of lawmakers’ attempt to stop them (because obviously setting up an independent broadband network somehow stifles the corporate rights of the telecommunications giants). So, the not-exactly-little Google, got a boost out of the FCC vote, too. And make no mistake, they also did a significant amount of lobbying to swing public option in their favor. In this case, though, I think they had a valid point.