Language Games

Honesty starts with language.  No! It does not start with the language used. It starts with the way that language is used. For example, one might send a colleague an email stating, “I cannot believe you are so ******* dumb you can’t say @@@@ without screwing it up!”  Or, if the critic was feeling a bit more genteel, the email might say, “I was totally disgusted to see how poorly you represented our position before the committee today.”  In both cases, the recipient would understand the sender was not happy. Sure, his or her reactions to the two emails might be different, but the meaning is essentially the same.

Now that the groundwork is laid, where is this going?  Well, it is going somewhere I have ventured before to some degree, but before you click away, give me a second to expand on the title and why you should be interested in what I have to say.

As noted here several times in the past, the way people handle social media is an issue. In some cases, it seems to bring out the troll in us. That reaction is usually accompanied by a lack of veracity. This point came to mind recently when a meme concerning a particular school district mandating a new sex education curriculum started making the rounds. The “mandated” sex-ed curriculum reportedly covered topics some might feel are more abomination than education.

My first thought was to move on. Sex education is one of those topics the right, the left, and much of the middle could argue about for eternity. I did not however, because the meme catching my attention used the word mandated, and the school district in question has a good deal of political clout. Besides, I am always interested in the way others respond to such claims. So, I did a bit of research.

As it turned out, both sides of the issue in question played fast and loose with the truth.  If that comes as a surprise to you, please do not tell me.  I still have a bit of faith left in humanity living up to its position on the sentient being scale.

Skewing the truth, if not outright lying, is a standard tactic in many political, professional, and neighborhood debates, especially when social media is involved. I keep hoping that will change, as we become more acclimated to communicating in this manner. Sadly, that does not seem to be case. Accordingly, I wanted to see who might take liberties with the truth.

The hot button on this particular issue was not just sex education. It was the kinds of sexual activity included in the classes. Some aspects of the curriculum are considered topics one does not discuss in polite society by many folks. For the record, it does not matter which form of sexual contact or activity you envisioned reading that last sentence. The problem here is not the legality, morality, or the risk level of the behavior.  The point here is the liberties some take with language to support their point.

The piece starting the controversy was posted by a right-wing pundit who makes his living through hyperbole.1 The other side of the issue was a somewhat well respected fact-checking site. To be as objective as possible at this point, I must clarify the fact-checking entity in question is considered somewhat liberal by many conservatives.  Still, I have found them trustworthy, if one keeps their possible biases in mind when checking their analysis of a “fact.”  With that said, it is essential for anyone doing online research to keep the way language is used in mind and read carefully.

Here, the biggest problem on both sides was the term mandated.  The right-wing pundit claimed the school district was mandating students to be taught about sexual activity many adults might be embarrassed to acknowledge, much less talk about. The sometimes left-leaning fact-checking organization labeled his accusations false because he used the word mandated.  They did not, it should be noted, say his other claims were false.  Instead, they linked to the federal guidelines which essentially required school districts to establish curriculums in which such activity could be discussed. Which brings us to the crux of this matter.

The pundit claimed the ISD was forcing students to attend the sexual activity-related lectures in question. The fact-checkers claimed it was not mandated or forced participation as there were ways to avoid the classes some felt controversial. They stated the school districts did not mandate attendance as the parents had the right to file paperwork requesting alternative classes for their students.  Therefore, the pundit’s comments were false.

The pundit, and others, responded the classes were mandated because the students had to attend unless the parents took steps to remove them and request alternative classes. In essence, the students were mandated to go, unless the parents paid attention to notices the school claimed to distribute and then filed for an exemption. Whichever side of this dispute you come down on, keep a couple of things in mind.

The school district did not start this controversy. The U.S. Department of Education issued the guidelines concerning sex education. In the minds of many, the DOE is mandating, there is that word again, ISDs set up these programs because failure to adopt the programs could result in the loss of millions in federal aid, not to mention lawsuits and complaints from activists and outside parties pushing their agendas.

Another thing to consider is the impact to the children, if they are moved to an alternative class. For one reason or another, the odds are the majority of students will attend the DOE recommended classes.  This means those whose parents are paying attention, caring about the matter, and willing to rock the boat a bit will be in the minority. This will make their students likely targets of bullying or good old fashion childish behavior.  Additionally, they will undoubtedly hear the more salacious details of the classes from their fellow students.

They will not hear the, hopefully, thought out and objective presentation about the pros and cons of certain behaviors from teachers. Instead, they will hear the uninformed, what seemed funniest, strangest, or grossest sexual behaviors in which some people engage. They may hear something akin to the admonitions from my public school days such as, that’ll make you go blind, or worse.

The bottom line is this.  Everything you find on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other social media outlets, including the piece you just finished reading, should be considered suspect.  Before, you share,  blast, or dismiss the item, do your own research.

  1. Please note, this comment is not meant to be an indictment of the individual involved. It is meant to be an indictment of the way many use social media. If one wants to make money from their writing, research, whatever through social media, click-worthy content and design is essential.  Therefore, hyperbole, distortion, and shading the truth to some extent is considered essential.  If you doubt that, click in on a post with a headline beginning “10 Shocking Facts about …”, and you’ll likely find ten yawners or slightly amusing anecdotes.

© – 2019

Posted in Civility, Daily Life, Entertainment, Ethics, Journalism, social media | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Of Climate Change and Exploitation

First, there is no doubt climate change is real.  Doubts arise when activists begin to claim climate change is the result of humanity’s ignorance concerning the fragility of the ecosphere. Yes, climate change is real. The questions are how much of an impact do humans, cows, and industry have on the changes, and what are the short and long term prognoses for the planet.

The doomsday crowd may be correct, and the world as we know it could be changed dramatically for the worse in a short time, relatively speaking. On the other hand, the climate disaster crowd’s record as prophets is not impressive. Either way, this piece is about another issue that is being revealed by the climate change debate.

Greta Thunberg is the new darling of the climate change world, and rightfully so. She has done a marvelous job of pushing her understanding of the pending disaster and what must be done to avoid it. In fact, her efforts led to Time Magazine naming her person of the year, as well her becoming the target of some who feel the whole thing is a plot of one sort or another.

Whether Thunberg is a child prodigy or is simply being used by others makes little difference. The fact she is even the topic of conversation and debate points out a long-term strategy of the Left that should have everyone conservative or moderate worried.

Believe it or not, there have been other doomsday prophets in the past. Some with much more credibility than the group for which Thunberg is now the poster child. When I was a bit younger than Ms. Thunberg, I was being trained to defend my family and my homeland from the coming Russian-Cuban invasion.

My homeland defense training was after years of being indoctrinated into the duck and cover practices of the impending nuclear war worries. I have no idea how many times I watched doomsday related news stories. Buildings were flattened by atomic bombs, and communist soldiers marched in parades to show their country’s might.

Not only were my brother and I trained to survive, our dad, like many people today, made money off of the doomsday prepping of the time. He designed and sold bomb and fallout shelters. Since we were in Texas, some of those could double as tornado shelters, but no bombs ever dropped.

While there are similarities between the doomsday cult of the 50s and 60s and the doomsday propagators of today, there were significant differences. For one thing, my brother and I were not allowed to skip school to protest. We were never allowed to organize student walkouts, strikes, or protests, and if we had tried, no one would have paid much attention. Which brings this back to Ms. Thunberg and others.

The word exploitation is used in the title of this piece for two reasons. One is to get a potential reader’s attention. The other is to bring up a potential problem Greta Thunberg represents, whether she or anyone else realizes it.

The extremes of both the Left and the Right exploited the likes of Ms. Thunberg for decades, if not longer. The World War II era was the time of Hitler Youth and teenage Kamikaze pilots. Earlier in the 20th Century, it was the Soviet Youth and Communist youth movements. In more modern times, we have teen and younger, terrorists, and soldiers. These and other examples show impressionable youth can be utilized effectively to help bring about radical change, whether they know what they are doing or not.

The current movement, of which Thunberg is the staring example, has been in motion since at least the 1980s. That is when I first became aware the Left in this country is attempting to change practices and laws to bring the likes of Greta into the world of adults and politics. Their goal is to lower the voting age to sixteen, and Ms. Thunberg is a stellar example of why they wish to make such a change.

What I will say now, will label me an “adultist” in the eyes of many of my old friends and associates in higher education. By that, they will mean I am engaging in adultism by implying a sixteen-year-old should not have the same rights as a fifty-year-old. Especially when it comes to voting and political activities.

Whether anyone is purposefully exploiting Ms. Thunberg is not the question. She is being used, even though at the moment, she probably feels she is empowered and in control. To her credit, she appears to be handling the spotlight and notoriety very well, either that or she has the best puppeteer behind her anyone has ever seen. Still, she is the poster child for two positions on this issue.

First, and the one most important to those who applaud her current notoriety and role, she is representing their position of climate change doom. Not only is she doing so, but she is doing it with passion and elegance far beyond her years. Second, she is precisely why the idea of lowering the voting age to sixteen or further emancipating teenagers wholesale is dangerous.

Someone has frightened this child to the point of near hysteria. Now, they are manipulating her, keeping her agitated. Too, it seems they do not care about the long term effect of her involvement in their doomsday view of the world.

Of course, Ms. Thunberg is not your average sixteen-year-old. She is, reportedly, a sixteen-year-old with Asperger’s Syndrome. A syndrome her mother flippantly calls her “superpower,” which likely means her mother does not understand the danger of that superpower.

Whether she is being used or simply allowed to act on her own, Ms. Thunberg’s behavior should be concerning. It should be especially bothersome to her parents or anyone with any knowledge of special needs individuals. For example, one effect of Asperger’s is increased anxiety and depression.

Ms. Thunberg has displayed both of these in spades during her public presentations. These characteristics and others may lead to uncertain outcomes for a person with Asperger’s. I will not mention them here, but anyone with interest in the matter can easily find them. Here, let’s just say it does not bode well for someone in Ms. Thunberg’s position, should she fall out of favor with her supporters and fans.

Personally, the circumstantial evidence surrounding Greta Thunberg’s rise to notoriety leads me to believe she is being used. Admittedly, there is no definitive evidence that is the case. Still, the idea that a sixteen-year-old special needs child could orchestrate her rise to fame seems a bit far-fetched. If she is being used, those manipulating here are playing a dangerous game with her physical and mental well-being.

© – 2019

Posted in Civility, Daily Life, Ethics, family, Family Vaules, Morality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Wisdom Isn’t

Don’t you love these little bits of wisdom that Anonymous1 and others publish to help us find our way? Of course, one cannot forget the friends and associates who help spread these so-called truths in one way or another. Take the one on the left, for example, so wise, so meaningful.

Snarkiness aside, there is some truth to this bit of anonymous wisdom. Who cares if St. Louis Style barbecue is better than Memphis Style. Does it really matter if the Dallas Cowboys are America’s Team or if the Pats are the best team ever to put on cleats? Oh! If I have offended anyone by not mentioning the Packers, the 49’ers, or your favorite team, I apologize.

Just kidding! Even though Jerry has pretty much neutered the ‘Boys throughout his reign, their star will rise again when the time is right. As for Brady and his crew, we all know they cheat!

Back to reality, so to speak. The problem with the quotation above is what it does not say. There are times when it is crucial to make it clear one’s position is the right position, regardless of the consequences. For example, consider domestic abuse.

When one mentions domestic abuse, most people immediately envision a battered or abused wife. That assumption is wrong on at least two levels. First, not all abuse is physical. Second, the husband is not always the abuser. A third, misconception is the belief all abusers have a history of abusing others or entered into the relationship with the intent to dominate the other party, through any means necessary.

True, some abusers have a history indicating their propensity for violence, either physical or psychological. Yet, that is not always the case. Either way, as the article on abuse referenced below makes clear, the wronged party may be able to avoid or stop the violence. By the way, apologies are likely not the answer.

Apologizing to an abusive, pushy, or overbearing individual may be a poor strategy.   In fact, apologizing, and letting the other party feel vindicated may be feeding his or her need to assert power. With that said, let’s avoid digging farther into the domestic abuse issue. For a better understanding of how or when to deal with abusers check out an article on the topic in Psychology Today. That piece deals with that issue more effectively and deeply than is necessary to debunk the meme above.

Here, let’s focus on that friend, associate, or relative who always needs to be right or have the last word. You don’t appreciate their attitude, but for whatever reason, you feel the relationship is more important than appearing to have an overblown sense of self-importance.

For example, consider the coworker who continually pushes your buttons in one way or another. Failure to confront this issue may result in everything from merely making the workplace uncomfortable to what might be considered a hostile work environment; for you and others. Of course, serious issues may need intervention from HR or management, but anything short of that might be up to you.

Consider the office gossip, for example. You know! The person who regularly shares some salacious update concerning a coworker, client, or celebrity. For whatever reason, you do not want to be part of that particular game, but it is not an HR worthy issue.  That means, you either put up with it or say something.

Should you decide to address the matter with the gossip, he or she will respond in one way or another. For instance, the person may go off in a huff.  In that case, you can rest assured the individual will not bother you again. On the other hand, you may become the focus of the gossip network for a time.

It is possible to minimize the negative impact of telling the gossip to take a hike. For example, do not use the term “take a hike.”  Find a more respectful way to make it clear you wish to be left out of the gossip loop. One, that does not give the person an easy excuse to be offended. It is also likely, no matter how diplomatically one tries to handle the situation, the other party will feel hurt, angry, or unliked. If a negative response is apparent, you may, as the meme above suggests, feel the need to apologize to save whatever is left of the relationship. Don’t do it! Here is why.

You will be impowering the other party. He or she may see your principles are a convenience, that the appropriate challenge will cause you to surrender. People who make inappropriate comments are often testing the waters, especially in a new relationship. Accepting their overture, without comment, can be a problem. Anyone not making it clear he or she does not play that that game, may find the level of inappropriate activity increasing. They will be seen as an ally.

Keep in mind, people attempting to drag others into their circle of gossips, bigots, or whatever will be prepared, consciously or unconsciously, for a negative response. They may act hurt, angry, or confused. Whether that is a genuine response or a tactic, makes little difference. If you genuinely believe your comment or position was apology worthy, it may be appropriate at some point to issue an apology.  Whatever you decide, do not say the words “I am sorry.”2

Yes, it is possible to apologize without compromising your position on a matter.  Unfortunately, digging into that subject is more appropriate for a workshop, seminar, or coaching session than a blog post. The point to remember here is that a blanket apology may give the other party the idea they can try again in the future.

The point to remember is this. The unattributed comment above is not a blanket statement of truth. Compromising deep-held beliefs or agreeing to something one knows is wrong to save a relationship is a mistake. If maintaining a relationship means compromising one’s standards, the relationship may need to be reconsidered.

Finally, many of these tips or bits of wisdom aren’t what they seem. Yes, they sound lovely, warm, cuddly, etc.  Still, in many cases, regardless of who authored the statement, they are nice-sounding platitudes with all the depth of a bottle cap.

  1. I find these “anonymous” attributions amusing for several reasons. First, it is likely the true attribution is “unknown.” Second, there often is someone willing to take credit for the quotation, but determining the true source is too much trouble. Also, if it sounds good, and I want to publish it without running into copyright problems, I’ll just attribute it to the all-knowing, Anonymous.
  2. Some will argue “I’m sorry” is more sincere and remorseful than an apology.  I regret that is the case, as people can use either word and not mean it, but the number of non-apology, apologies coming through the media and social media certainly taints the process.  While there are ways to make an “I apologize” as meaningful or even more meaningful than “I’m sorry,” that is the topic for another essay.  On the other hand, when you’ve hurt someone’s pride, and say “I’m sorry,” two things may happen.  You may feel negatively about yourself, after all, you said you were sorry, and they may be thinking, “You sure are!”

© – 2019

Posted in Civility, Daily Life, family, Manners, social media, Uncategorized, Verbal Communication | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

When an Age Spot Isn’t!

Okay, boys and girls, I hate to be the grinch who stole Christmas, but! I’d rather put out something not joyous today than read something really sad next year.

For those of us in late-late middle age, maybe even a bit younger, we have these things called wisdom bumps, age spots, or some other innocuous name. Sadly, as I found out a few weeks ago, not all of them are harmless signs of the fact one is closing in on his or her final years.

For the record, I am not one to avoid doctors because he does not want someone to tell him he is overweight, eating poorly, or indulging in vices that may shorten one’s life. I listen patiently, read the doctor’s suggestions, and then follow the ones with which I agree. That does not mean I ignore them completely, but I do no obsess about the fact my fiftieth birthday is a fading memory. Okay, my fiftieth is not even a memory, but I have pictures of my sixtieth.

What I am trying to say is this. I go to the doctor and add doctors as it seems appropriate. One of those optional docs in my book was the dermatologist, but I finally agreed to see one regularly a few years ago. If nothing else, it is amusing to sit in a waiting room watching clerks, nurses, and other staff members who all look like they could have been on the cover of some fashion magazine, and most of them can still smile without straining.

All right, I went for a cheap life there. Still, it is interesting to see how attractive the staff is at offices such as this. Anyway, my doctor is great, snide remarks about plastic surgery aside. She has helped me fight the effects of years in the sun, no interest in keeping my skin moist, and other male shortcomings when it comes to how one looks, other than our hair and waistline, in some cases.

Well, even the most health-conscious of us with great doctors can miss some danger signs. Mine was a small brown spot the size of a dime just below my left knee. It seemed to be a large freckle or small age spot. It was there for years, and I only thought about it when I went to the dermatologist. In fact, it had been there so long, neither my doctor or I checked it regularly.

Then one day in the reading room, it caught my eye. The brown spot had paled a bit, and it was no longer a solid spot. In fact, it looked a bit like a splash of coffee that dried on a countertop. An oval spot with little spots splayed out in front of it. Since my regularly scheduled visit to the skin doctor was just a couple of weeks away, I did not worry about it. I did, however, remember to show it to the doc. She was not happy but said it was probably nothing. To be on the safe side, she sent a piece of it to the pathologist.

My suspicions of trouble began when we started playing telephone tag. Normally, if she had not reached me directly, she would leave a message on my phone saying everything was okay and see me next year. This time, it was please call back, and it took several tries to connect. I was certain it was not good news, and when she returned my last attempt after hours, I knew what was coming before she told me.

Okay! I did not know the exact diagnosis. I did know it was not going to be a good one. Yet, as these things go it could have been a lot worse. The spot was a melanoma in situ. If you clicked on the link, you know this is the least dangerous stage of melanoma. In fact, my surgeon said it was essentially a pre-melanoma. Whatever one calls it, it is something that needs to be addressed.

The spot on the left is similar to the spot on my leg as it had existed for years. The spot on the right is similar to the change I noticed and is a possible indicator the spot is degenerating into something dangerous.

Just so you know, fixing something such as this is not a walk in the park. They must treat it as real cancer, and that means some real surgery, depending on the location. In my case, I had four procedures for this one spot.

First, was the attempt to remove it in my regular dermatologist’s office. She got a lot of it, but knew she did not have it all. So she referred me to a surgeon. He cut a hole in my leg just below the knee that was a bit bigger than a quarter, removing the skin all the way down to the muscle. That sample went to the pathologist, who found he did not get it all. The third procedure enlarged the hole to about the size of a silver dollar, and when that report came back clear I had a fourth surgery to close the wound.

So, I have another scar to add to my collection. If anyone remembers the commercial from some years ago of two old codgers standing on the edge of a swimming pool comparing scars, I can be their buddy if they want to do another one.

To wrap this up, I will go back to what I said earlier. I hate to publish something like this just before Christmas, but I’d rather have you a bit worried about those age spots now so you can schedule an appointment after Christmas than have you wake up in the spring one day, saying what’s this thing on my leg, or wherever, and finding out simple surgery will not fix it.

I’ll be praying for all of you to have a great Christmas and New Year, and that your age spots are just that.

Operating room image courtesy of  JAFAR AHMED on Unsplash

© -2019

Posted in Daily Life, Medicine, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Eating an Elephant: The Media Circus

Given the title of this piece, one might wonder if it will be another op-ed about the media and the Republican Party. If that is a concern, rest assured, that would be akin to carrying sand to the beach. No, this piece is about another aspect of how the media circus is being used to attack and alter the very fabric of U.S. culture.

The late General Creighton Abrams is credited with the quotation leading to this piece and future pieces dealing with the thought explored here. He allegedly used the analogy as a way to describe how one dealt with huge challenges. Whether the comment originated with him or not, it has merit.1 For example, consider the recent history of the media in the United States.

By history of the media, I am not speaking solely of the changes in media technology. Instead, I will focus on some aspects of how media is being used, consciously or unconsciously, to alter society. For example, one of the inspirations for this piece was a comic strip some might call edgy.

Generally, the writer uses the strip to poke fun at typical human behavior, make a pithy comment or pun about some aspect of life, or use a twist of phrase in an attempt to engender a laugh. Some, such as a play on words attempting to use a medical disability as the punch line, are less than amusing. Others, as with many such attempts at humor are funny because they are groan-worthy. The panel that helped spark this piece missed the humor mark in several ways but shows how something as innocent as a comic panel can be used to legitimize destructive behavior.

In this case, easily recognized comedic advertising characters, the candy-coated chocolate characters who melt in your mouth, not in your hand types, are displayed in a sadomasochistic themed panel. One character is tied to a headboard while the other stands, whip in hand, ready to dish out some pleasure and pain until the yellow-shelled submissive cries out the safe word, “Dentist.”

I know! We’ve witnessed that scene played out by humans multiple times on television and in the movies. In the overall scheme of things, it is a pebble thrown into raging rapids. Still, the idea that newspaper publishers are willing to publish something such as this in the comics should be alarming. Yes, many will say it is merely the evolution of the media, and kids do not read the comics anyway. That may be true, but it does not nullify the concerns being expressed here.

In the name of progress and societal evolution, there is little today the media will refuse to publish in one form or another. Unless, of course, it is something that does not fit the progressive agenda. Within that agenda, it is anything goes, and then some.

Just a few years ago, so-called “girlie magazines” were not displayed prominently at the news counter or convenience store. If they were, they were presented in a manner that hid the most risqué aspects of their nature. Today, in the era of “me-too” and don’t objectify women, photos that were considered borderline porn a few decades ago are in public view everywhere.

In our efforts to be “enlightened, ” we have become a society that will vilify a man for something he may have done or said toward a woman decades ago. At the same time, we push an open sexuality agenda that makes the free love ideas of the hippies seem puritanical. Additionally, at one time, a child would be embarrassed to voice their need to urinate. Now, we live in a society that overlooks people voiding their bladders and emptying their bowels on the public sidewalk.

Something or someone has been following the late general’s advice. They have been butchering and consuming society, one small bite at a time for decades if not centuries. Only time will tell what the new society they hope to bring about will look like. In the meantime, one only needs to pony up the money for a movie, spend a few minutes on streaming television services, or, in some cases, watch network television to get a taste of the future.

  1. For the record, this piece or any piece in the future using a derivative of this title is not an endorsement of consuming elephant or other forms of so-called bushmeat. With that said, elephants have been and still are it seems considered a delicacy, if not a necessary food source in some societies.



Posted in Daily Life, Entertainment, Ethics, family, Family Vaules, Morality, social media | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Of Bandwagons and Windmills

Not long ago a friend and blogger wrote a piece about the tendency people have to jump on the bandwagon. In many cases, they clamber aboard with no clear understanding of where the darn thing is headed. Of course, it is sometimes difficult to know with certainty where the wagon is going if the driver has no clear-cut destination in mind, or is intentionally misleading recruits. For example, this same friend shared a news story recently about the dilemma faced by those riding the wind-generated electricity bandwagon.

If you missed the news on this issue, so did most of the world. As far as I could determine the only major, to use the term loosely, outlet discussing the matter was NPR. The rest of the coverage was limited to online publications most people would not consult in a million years. Of course, that is somewhat understandable as the terms wind-generated electricity, wind turbines, and ecological impact put most people to sleep more effectively than Ambien.

So, here is the problem in a nutshell. This oh, so efficient and effective source of electricity has a major flaw. This flaw makes the decimation of the California Condor1 a footnote at best, and it creates an environmental, sort of, problem that will last for a few centuries. What is that problem you ask; recycling.

As with some of the other “green” energy ideas, wind turbines have a recycling problem. Those blades that spin so slowly and magnificently when the wind blows have a limited life span. As with almost anything one can think of structural material degrades over time. In the case of the highly sophisticated turbine blades, they reportedly have a life span of around two decades, give or take.

Once they begin to become structurally unsound, they must be replaced. The problem then is what does one do with a multi-ton, 110-155 foot composite blade. As it turns out, you pay someone to cut the sucker up and create new landfill mountains where it, and thousands of others, can rest in peace for future generations to excavate and wonder what were those ancient people thinking.

Yes, the green energy bandwagon has hit a significant bump in the road that makes many wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into. Of course, as with any passion or delusion, we often see what we wish to see. Take the great windmill tilter of literary history, Don Quixote. He saw challenges and danger in everything from windmills to members of the clergy. Quixote’s view of reality was entirely obscured by his thirst for times past and heroic deeds.

Today, our tilters see monsters in board rooms determined to destroy the world in chase of the almighty dollar. They see giants of industry as highwaymen stealing from the poor to give to their cronies. They suspect a CEO will follow a path that will end the world in a few years if he or she can make a killing in the stock market this year, and like the man of La Mancha, they can find a truth that fits the view of those on their bandwagon where none exists.

Consider some of the objections made by those on the wind power bandwagon when confronted with the reality of the situation. One cried, “There must be some way to reuse these blades. Can’t they be polished or refinished in some way?” Undoubtedly, someone who avoided science or engineering classes during his school days, he had no idea there was such a thing as structural failure, and could only see the blade retirement problem as an attack on “the most efficient and cost-effective” form of renewable energy.

Other objections, as noted below, took more scholarly aim at supporting windmill farms. Of course, wind turbines are not the only renewable energy sources touted by those who see our carbon footprint as a death warrant for the eco-system. Those individuals find ways to see the world from the bed of a bandwagon that has a blind spot for the environmental and human costs associated with the production and recycling of high energy batteries for electric vehicles and other uses.

Admittedly, some may argue this writer is on the bandwagon of fossil fuels and capitalistic excesses that make my vision of their vision skewed. They certainly have a right to their opinion, and there is always the possibility they are correct. With that said, it is much more likely those pushing the green deal thinking, are not simply trying to be better stewards of the environment. Rather, they see a way to make money and grab power by forcing the pseudo-science claims of impending disaster due to man-made climate change on a poorly educated public.

If, and it is a big if, the doomsday predictions have any truth in them at all, the way those behind these movements are campaigning is despicable. They are in essence using the tactics of failed regimes of the past attempting to force their views on the rest of us. From masked goons attempting to silence any sort of debate, on any issue, to exploiting the fears of a teenage girl, they have joined the ranks of despots, totalitarians, and mustachioed supremacists from the past in their efforts to force the world into a future, they hope to control.

  1. I know! Researchers have gone out of their way to support what some call the condor Cuisinart power source by citing how few birds are killed by wind turbines compared to the number of Sparrows eaten by the neighbor’s kitty every year, and I am certain tens of thousands of tax dollars were spent on research to support those claims. Still, the Condors were not endangered by the turbines until green energy became the cause cé·lè·bre for the elites.

© – 2019

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A Sad State of Affairs: NYPD

Years ago I wrote an article for LAW and ORDER1 titled “The Rubber Gun Squad.” I was reminded of that piece a short time ago when I watched an interview with New York Mayor DeBlasio and NYPD Commissioner O’Neill.  The interview was saddening and infuriating. 

It was saddening because Rubber Gun Squad was written in response to the same tragedies being discussed in this interview. In December 1993, police departments were dealing with a significant increase in police officer suicides. On the morning of October 23, 2019, the same television network airing the suicide story in 1993, interviewed the mayor and commissioner because police officers, including NYPD officers, were committing suicide at an alarming rate, just as they were twenty-six years ago.

It was infuriating for a couple of reasons.  First, the purpose of the interview that morning was to allow DeBalsio and O’Neill to announce a new program for police officers in emotional distress.  Those officers now had a way to seek help anonymously. Other large departments implemented similar programs years ago, but not New York. Before this new program was developed, New York officers needing emotional or psychological support faced the same threat officers faced in 1993, a rubber gun squad or termination. 

I hope you can understand my disappointment. Almost three decades after this problem was officially acknowledged and articles, of which mine was only one, suggested ways to deal with the problem of emotional issues, burnout, suicide, and self-medication, one of the largest police departments in the world was just now attempting to address the issue, after ten (10) officers killed themselves in the last year.

The second aspect of this situation I found infuriating was a comment made by the commissioner.  When asked if he felt the city dropped the ball on this problem by not addressing it earlier, he and the mayor became a tad bit defensive. In defending the city and himself, the commissioner said he understood the problems officers faced, listing some of the tragedies and challenges they encountered regularly. Then he showed his true colors.

He looked at the interviewer and said, “I was a cop for a long time.” He then rambled on for a few minutes, but “I was a cop for a long time” was all I needed to hear to understand the situation.  The commissioner no longer considered himself a “cop.” He wasn’t the top cop.  He wasn’t the head cop. He wasn’t a cop. He was the commissioner, and there lies part of the problem.

Admittedly if one is the police commissioner or chief of police for a mayor who seems to feel police officers are at best a necessary evil, one must tread lightly.  Yes, Tom Selleck’s Frank Reagan on Blue Bloods stands up to the mayor all the time, supporting the men and women of the CBS version of NYPD. In real life, that is often difficult as any police chief, director, or commissioner will likely admit, off the record at least.

Failing to stand up for one’s officers is one thing.  That can be a political decision, and someone might feel bowing down to a bullying mayor or city manager may seem appropriate. Yes, having the courage to risk being canned by bucking the mayor might make someone feel good, and earn a bit of cred with the beat cops. In other cases, it might sentence the officers looking to you for leadership to more disrespect and poor management.  It is hard to know if Commissioner O’Neill pulled a Frank Reagan or licked DeBlasio’s boots, but I fear the latter.

Some may read that last sentence and consider it a bit hyperbolic.  That’s fine. It is a free country, at least for the moment. Still, O’Neill’s comment that he “was” a cop seems to show he no longer considers himself a cop. If that is true, it is a terrible mistake on his part and a sad situation for his department.  The top cop, whatever the title, needs to see things through eyes that are aware of his or her status.  With that said, if one loses sight of the fact he or she is still a cop, there may be hell to pay at many levels.

Yes, the top cop’s job is different. Chiefs or commissioners at larger departments do not routinely work night watch or make public intoxication arrests. They do not worry about the sergeant or lieutenant jumping their backside about paperwork errors or a lost set of keys.  Still, they are cops first, and administrators second. When they forget that everyone suffers. 


  1. LAW and ORDER was a monthly publication targeting police management founded in 1953. It apparently ceased operations in 2014.   

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