I'm told that someone found this ad for Governor Ron DeSantis objectionable, and that it has disappeared from television. I wouldn't know; I saw it because it still shows up as an ad on some of the YouTube channels we follow. (I haven't figured out how to block ads on either my phone or our Roku—any ideas?)

I love it; it is so DeSantis, and so Florida. I had to go to Australia to find a good copy to post, but here it is, one minute of fun:

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, September 5, 2022 at 8:27 am | Edit
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It started innocently enough, with an e-mail from AncestryDNA informing me of an additional trait revealed by my genetic makeup: my inclination to seek out or to avoid risky behavior. I could have predicted the result: I definitely prefer to avoid risk. Except, of course, that if I were as risk-averse as they say I am, I wouldn't be about to write something that could get me cancelled by Facebook.

The trigger was in one of Ancestry's explanatory paragraphs:

The world around you also affects your appetite for risk. Younger people and folks who were assigned male at birth report taking the most risks, which may be influenced by environmental factors like social rewards. Some influences are closer to home, like whether your parents encouraged risk taking. Also, our popular understandings of risk may skew more toward physical and financial risks than emotional ones. It's not only risky to do things like step onto a tightrope blindfolded. It's also risky to be honest about your feelings, admit ignorance, and express disagreement. In other words, it's risky to be yourself.

Really, Ancestry? Folks who were assigned male at birth? You mean men? If there's one place I'd expect to be free from this massacre of language, not to mention of reality, it would be a company that makes its money telling people about their chromosomes. When the attendants at my birth announced, "It's a girl!" they were not assigning my sex, they were revealing it, and AncestryDNA should know that better than anybody. Is there any point in trusting the other things they say about my genetics if they think that whether I was born with XX or XY chromosomes is something that was chosen by the birth attendants? Maybe the doctor determined my skin color, too? And the nurse decided I would be right-handed? Humbug.

When American women began coloring their hair, the object was to appear natural (no purple!).  Clairol's popular commercial advertising their product contained the catchphrase, "Only her hairdresser knows for sure." My ophthalmologist amended that to, "... and her eye doctor."

While examining my eyes, he had casually announced, "You're actually a blonde."  My hair, at that time, was brown, with a smattering of grey. All natural, I might add.  A towhead as a child, I had gradually morphed into a brunette.  Or so I thought.

"How do you know that?" I questioned.

"You have a blonde fundus.  You can dye your hair and fool most people, but your eyes know the truth."

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, September 2, 2022 at 6:12 am | Edit
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The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (Skyhorse Publishing, 2021)

As a teenager, I flirted with the Kennedy adulation so common among my peers. I was too young to know much about John F. Kennedy, though I vivdly remember proudly carrying a note from my mother explaining that I was late coming back to school from lunch because I had been watching Kennedy's inauguration on television. (We walked home from school for lunch every day; to some people, that probably makes me seem old enough for it to have been George Washington's inauguration—were it not for the television reference.) I barely even remember JFK's assassination, since I was at the eye doctor's at the time and thus missed the reactions of my classmates. However, I spent hours glued to the television during Robert F. Kennedy's funeral in 1968, and genuinely grieved. But that was then; the subsequent years gradually took the shine off both the Democratic Party and the Kennedy family for me. Our two years of living in the Boston area and hearing from the common people their stories of oppression at the hands of Kennedys sealed the deal.

So why would I choose to read a book by Robert F. Kennedy's own son and namesake? Why would I wade through a book that castigates Republicans and has nothing but admiration for his famous family? Why would I spend my two weeks at the beach reading a book of nearly 1000 pages without even the excuse of it being a Brandon Sanderson novel? (There's a confusing difference in number of pages between the Kindle version and the hardcover, with the former being nearly twice the latter. Whatever—it's long.)

Two reasons, maybe. It was recommended by someone whose opinions I respect, and although the book costs $20 in hardcover, it is only $2.99 in Kindle form.

I'll state upfront that the book is controversial. My first reaction was, "If this is true, why is Dr. Fauci not in jail? If it's not true, why isn't he suing Kennedy for libel?" Speaking of libel, feel free to read Kennedy's Wikipedia entry, which is a pretty good example of the way controversial topics are handled these days. You don't like what someone says? Why bother to refute his arguments when you can brand him a conspiracy theorist, a purveyor of false information, and shut him down? But go ahead, read the accusations. Then read the book.

Despite the seriousness of the subject, it is somewhat amusing and even encouraging to find a die-hard Democrat who is willing to skewer not just Republicans but much of his own party as well (though not the Kennedys themselves), while admitting that the hated Republicans have sometimes been closer to the truth, and revealing that presidents of both parties have been helpless in the hands of the bureaucrats whom they have been forced to trust.

Don't let the number of pages in this book dissuade you. Reading it went surprisingly quickly, not only because it is interesting, but because so much of it is pages and pages and pages of footnotes. If it's misinformation, it's certainly well-documented misinformation.

It did take me a while to get into the book. The first section, which is about COVID-19, is over-long and harder to read than the rest of the book. Perhaps because this problem is new and ongoing, Kennedy is not at his best, sometimes overly polemic. He's still angry in the rest of the book, but handles it better. Maybe I just got used to it. Or maybe I got angry, myself.

This is not a book to take my word for. Much of its value comes in its extensive documentation, its references and endnotes—not that you need to read them all, even if you could, but that you need to know the documentation is there. Kennedy is not just some politician spouting off his baseless opinions. In addition, he makes an effort to update both information and references online.

I will not provide here my usual selection of quotations. (That's not to say I won't produce a few in subsequent posts.) Instead you get my own very brief and inadequate summary, the table of contents, and a subset of the questions swirling in my mind—some I have been asking for decades, others generated through reading The Real Anthony Fauci.

The Précis

The health and safety of America's people, along with that of much of the rest of the world, has for decades been held hostage by the iron grip of an unholy alliance among the federal agencies charged with that responsibility, the pharmaceutical industry, our research universities, a few quasi-charitable organizations (such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), and—come late to the table but enormously powerful—the gate-keepers of information (from CNN to Google). There's no reason to call it a conspiracy; "cartel" and "oligarchy" are the words that spring more readily to mind. The combination of good intentions (to put the best face on it), a great deal of hubris, and the power to acquire and control unimaginably vast sums of money qualifies as a man-made disaster of the highest magnitude. During my five-year tenure as a researcher at a major university medical center, I saw only the tiniest slice of the world of government grants and the network that controls academic publishing, but it was quite enough to make Kennedy's revelations believable.

The Contents

  1. Mismanaging a Pandemic
    • Arbitrary Decrees: Science-Free Medicine
    • Killing Hydroxychloroquine
    • Ivermectin
    • Remdesivir
    • Final Solution: Vaccines or Bust
  2. Pharma Profits over Public Health
  3. The HIV Pandemic Template for Pharma Profiteering
  4. The Pandemic Template: AIDS and AZT
  5. The HIV Heresies
  6. Burning the HIV Heretics
  7. Dr. Fauci, Mr. Hyde: NIAID's Barbaric and Illegal Experiments on Children
  8. White Mischief: Dr. Fauci's African Atrocities
  9. The White Man's Burden
  10. More Harm Than Good
  11. Hyping Phony Epidemics: "Crying Wolf"
  12. Germ Games

The Questions

  • Why has there been so little attention given to discerning why disorders such as autism, ADHD, asthma and other autoimmune diseases, allergies, and a variety of mental health issues have become so rampant? 
  • Why are we more concerned with selling highly profitable drug treatments and permanent surgical alterations instead of asking ourselves what might be in our water, our air, our food, our medical treatments, or our society that has caused so many boys to decide they need to be girls, and vice versa?
  • Why do we quietly accept the marked deterioration in the health of our people after over a century of astonishing improvement?
  • Why are those in our federal government who hold the solemn duty of safeguarding the nation's health allowed to reap huge personal profits (or any profit at all, for that matter) from vaccines and other products of the pharmaceutical industry? How is it not an infernal conflict of interest that the authorities responsible for declaring a new drug "safe and effective" stand to make a great deal of money if they give it their stamp of approval?
  • Why was so much effort—and an unimaginable amount of money and other resources—put into developing and distributing COVID-19 vaccines, while the most obvious and most important question was ignored: How do we treat this disease?
  • In the early months of the pandemic, boots-on-the-ground physicians successfully treated COVID-19 patients by repurposing inexpensive, already-approved drugs. Why were these doctors first ignored, then demonized, and their remedies (legal, with a long record of safety) pulled off the market by underhanded means?
  • Why did we repeat with COVID-19 so many of the mistakes we made when struggling with AIDS in the 1980's?
  • Why was the AIDS picture so different between America and Africa?
  • Why are pharmaceutical companies, and charities such as the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, allowed to dump on Africa, at significant profit, drugs and vaccines that have been deemed too dangerous for Americans?
  • Why does much of our drug and vaccine testing take place in Africa, where the rules of proper research, record keeping, and informed consent can be ignored, and adverse events conveniently buried?
  • Malaria used to be prevalent in the United States. Why has so much effort been spent on developing a still-mostly-ineffective malaria vaccine and so little on simple public health measures that might help eradicate it in Africa?
  • Why has the United States government been sponsoring the development of biological warfare agents, through a loophole in international treaties?
  • Why is our government outsourcing this biological warfare work to China, where regulations are lax and procedures known to be sloppy? Not to mention that China is known for industrial espionage and theft of intellectual property. Whoever imagined that it might be a good thing to avoid America's rules of legitimate research procedures while in all likelihood handing deadly technology over to a powerful country with whom our relations are uncertain at best?
  • Why have we allowed our medical institutions and research universities to become so completely dependent on federal and industrial funding that their work is controlled and compromised?
  • Why and when did we give up on the practice of scientific inquiry that has served so well in the past, and enshrine Science as a religion, wherein disagreement and debate, once necessary to the process, have become unspeakable heresy?
  • Why did our COVID response appear to be so experimental and bumbling at the start—I remember saying, "Give them a break; they are doing the best they can with too little data"—when the strategies the government employed had actually been designed, simulated, planned for, and practiced for years, through multiple presidencies?
  • And perhaps the most important question of all: Qui bono? How did the COVID-19 pandemic become the vehicle for a record transfer of wealth to the super-rich? Follow the money. Power corrupts; power over money corrupts exponentially.

There's more. Much more. Considering what Kennedy has discovered, the book turns out to be far more logical, documented, and measured than one has a right to expect. It's not everyone who can report rationally on something so shocking. This would be me:

 

Whatever your party affiliation or lack thereof, you owe it to yourself (and if you have children, especially to them) to invest $2.99 and a few hours in The Real Anthony Fauci. I'm at a loss as to how to confront the problems it reveals, but shedding some ignorance and blind trust is a start.

Turns out I'm admiring a Kennedy again. It only took me half a century.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, August 27, 2022 at 6:29 am | Edit
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Shame on us, Florida!

A 25% voter turn-out? Are you kidding me?

I'll admit that I wasn't thrilled by yesterday's primary election. The Democratic canditates were for the most part so disappointing I often found it hard to figure out the "least worst." This life-long Democrat has begun contemplating more seriously the idea of switching parties, just to be able to vote in the more interesting primary elections.

Not that my Republican husband did much better in influencing his primary results than I did. And my most disappointing failures came in the school board elections, which are non-partisan anyway.

(Why should I, who have happily been out of the school business for a couple of decades now, and whose grandchildren live in another state/another county, care about the school board elections? If for no other reason, public education paid for by public taxes ought to be the concern of all the public, not just those who happen to have children in the schools.)

Am I willing to believe that a 25% non-random sample is sufficiently representative of eligible voters? Should I be happy about the results, on the (probably dubious) theory that those who took the trouble to vote are the better people? I don't think so.

Regardless, voting is the closest thing we have to a secular sacrament, and its neglect is nearly as disappointing as when Christians decide that that participating in the sacred sacraments is "nice, but not all that important."

If nothing else, folks, voting gives you a more legitimate right to complain about how badly things are being run. Who would turn down that opportunity?

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, August 24, 2022 at 5:32 am | Edit
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I think we're being gaslighted.

How is it that we have come to a society where:

  • If you hold conservative views, you are not really black, no matter how dark your skin or how purely African your ethnic origin.
  • If you believe induced abortion is a procedure that takes the life of an innocent child and should be used only in the most extreme circumstances, you are not really a woman, no matter what your chromosomes might say. Indeed, you are less of a "woman" than a biological male who has had surgery and/or hormone treatments but professes the acceptable political beliefs.
  • If you acknowledge your sexual and/or gender differences and choose to live a celibate life in acceptance of the body and mind with which you were born, you are not really LGBTetc.
  • If you profess beliefs that were common among mainstream Democrats in the time of President Kennedy, you most definitely are not really a Democrat, no matter what it says on your voter registration card; you are more than likely to be considered a right-wing extremist.
  • You may have graduated at the top of your class from the best medical school and had decades of wide-ranging medical experience, but if you question the lines drawn by the CDC, the AMA, the FDA, and I don't know maybe even the FBI and the SEC, you are not a real doctor, and what's more you are a threat to society. You risk being ostracized, banned from social media, and having your career, your livelihood, and your medical licenses threatened.
  • If you are a scientist, no matter how many PhD's, Nobel Prizes and other awards, research grants, published papers, and other accomplishments you have accumulated, if at some point your work produces results not in line with the currently-fashionable scientific thoughts, you are ignorant, dangerous, and not a real scientist. You will find it difficult to impossible to get your work published in reputable, mainstream scientific publications, and will be in a similar position to the doctors who challenge the established canon. Of course, this is actually the way science and medicine commonly work, and true to history: real breakthroughs in understanding are often made by those whose life and work are rejected by the powers-that-be.
  • And the list goes on.

Welcome to the world of modern phrenology. Instead of believing we can know a person's character and mental abilities by examining the bumps on his head, we presume to do the same based on equally absurd characteristics.

That's crazy. Worse, it's rude.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, August 18, 2022 at 10:56 am | Edit
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I have too many Kindle books.

Granted, 280+ is a drop in the bucket compared with the physical books that crowd our bookshelves. Many of the ebooks are duplicates of physical books I already have, books I value so much I want them in both forms so I can easily search and highlight. But many are unique, since I find it very hard to resist when eReaderIQ alerts me that a book I'm interested in is on sale for $2.99 in Kindle form. While I really love the feel (and often smell) of physical books, I also appreciate what ebooks have to offer.

What concerns me, when I say I have too many Kindle books, is that I've bought and paid for them, but they're not really mine. Amazon has the ability—and sadly the right—to reach down into my Kindle and take them away from me at any time. True, they're supposed to refund the purchase price if they do so, but that's absolutely not the point. This was a concern I had at the very beginning of my relationship with Kindle, when I read the Terms & Conditions. I conveniently shelved the worry as the years went by with no problems. However, in these days of repeated attacks on First Amentment freedom of speech, social media posts and whole accounts being deleted for no reason other than that the platform objects to the (legal, protected) content, and people living in fear of offending algorithms—well, you can imagine why paranoia has returned.

I'm not certain what to do about it, other than what I just did: order a physical book that I don't actually want, just because I can imagine its very important content offending the Powers That Be enough for Amazon to make it disappear. I guess I can call it a donation to the author.

Maybe I should reread Fahrenheit 451. While I still can.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, July 27, 2022 at 8:29 am | Edit
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At the recent mall shooting in Greenwood, Indiana, the law enforcement response was well-trained and fast. But what kept this event from being far more tragic was a 22-year-old already on the scene and apparently sufficiently observant, calm, trained, and equipped to stop the carnage almost immediately by taking out the gunman. As Greenwood police chief Jim Ison himself said, "The real hero of the day is the citizen that was lawfully carrying a firearm in that food court and was able to stop the shooter almost as soon as he began."

Once upon a time, 22-year-olds were accustomed to doing the work of adults, managing their own families, farms, and often businesses. As I'm fond of reminding people, the famed Admiral David Farragut took command of a captured British ship in the War of 1812 at the age of 11, and was given his first command of a U. S. Navy ship at 21. With training, experience, opportunity, and higher expectations, our young people can be far more competent at life that we usually give them credit for.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, July 18, 2022 at 8:40 am | Edit
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Happy Bastille Day to our French and Francophile friends—though frankly, for at least two of you this day is more about your own birthdays. Happy Birthday, then!

The French still celebrate the Storming of the Bastille, despite the fact that—as evidenced by their extremely strict gun regulations—they don't want such a thing ever to happen again. They're no more hypocrites than we are: there are a great many people in this country who work frantically to disarm Americans, yet still indulge in our own Independence Day activities.

Those in power are not fond of sharing that power with anyone who might unseat them. I'm certain that King Louis XVI wasn't keen on the idea of an armed citizenry.

I'm not all that fond of the idea myself. I'm just a lot more frightened of the alternative.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, July 14, 2022 at 8:15 am | Edit
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Apparently California's governor, Gavin Newsom, is running a television ad directed at Floridians, urging us to move to California, "where we still believe in freedom."

More power to him.

I don't watch enough television to have actually seen the ad, and a brief online search revealed no lack of people wanting to tell me about the ad, but none that would show the ad in its entirety. So I can't adequately judge it.

Still, I can say that he's welcome to fish for new Californians here. Florida is being flooded with people emigrating from other states—including California—and I think we can afford to let a few people go the other way. Especially people who believe that California is more free than Florida.

You see, we happen to feel exactly the opposite. Based on all I know about other states, and what I've heard from friends and family across the country, Florida deserves it's designation as "one of the free states." I cannot say the same about California.

Much depends on what one believes makes the people of a state free, of course. New Hampshire—the "Live Free or Die" state—has a good claim based on many of the qualities that we think makes Florida free. My Texan friends will say the same for their state, and they have a long history on their side. I love the state of New York, but it has changed so much since we lived there I don't think I could go back; still, I imagine many of its citizens feel free in ways they would not in Florida. We have family members who absolutely adore living in California, and no doubt feel free enough, though I myself would a thousand times rather move even to New York than there. Connecticut has one of the best homeschooling laws in the country, which for me is one of the most important freedoms there is—yet I find it tyrannical in other ways.

Which is, or at least ought to be, Newsom's point: If Florida's idea of freedom conflicts with your own, you might be a better fit in California.

We are the United States of America. As important as it is to be the UNITED States, it is equally important to be the United STATES. We are not the same from coast to coast, nor should we be. Our diversity may be the source of some of our problems, but it is also the source of much of our strength—and of our freedom. It is the power of the Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. A citizen who finds that the culture of Florida does not conform sufficiently to his idea of what it means to be free is welcome to look for more congenial neighbors in California. And vice versa. In much of the world, you'd have to leave your country—or fight a war—to accomplish that.

This brings me to what may be the most important freedom of all, one that the last two years have significantly endangered: economic freedom. Not because it matters more than the higher freedoms, but because it supports them.

A democracy, or in our case a constitutional republic, may be the best government for promoting freedom, but it still can leave nearly half the population at the mercy of the whims of the other half. The tyranny of the majority. That's why, if a government really wants to support the freedom of its citizens, it will promote economic freedom and opportunity. A man who can easily change one job for another, one location for another, one school for another, one doctor for another, one search engine for another—such a man is hard to enslave.

The cynic in me suspects that this is why government policies tend to hurt small, independent businesses, and why monopolistic corporations, which can't regulate them to death, prefer to kill them quietly by buying them out. G. K. Chesterton wisely said that our problem is not too many capitalists, but too few.

The front of this t-shirt supports our own governor, Ron DeSantis, who to my mind deserves a lot of credit for helping Florida remain free during the past few years—economically as well as in our everyday lives. I took this picture of the back because I smile every time I see it. I love Florida; I want it to remain the free state that it is, and I wish many more states enjoyed our freedoms.

But I don't really agree with the sentiment; I don't want to make all of America like Florida—and not just because of our summer heat. I want Florida to be Florida, and Texas, Texas, and New Hampshire, New Hampshire, and California, California—only more so. I hate the ever-increasing expansion of the Federal government's reach, trying to make all states alike. Even more, I hate the homogenization of culture fueled by such institutions as Hollywood, academia, the powerful news media, and the boardrooms of large corporations.

Viva America! Long live every one of our quirky, individualistic states! Viva freedom!

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 8:31 am | Edit
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When my economist husband tells me an modern article is both consistent with everything he learned about economics in college and in life, and has also taught him something new, I take notice. The article in question is Inflation Reaches Unicorns, by John Mauldin, and should be accessible at that link.

It truly is about economics: investments, venture capitalists, inflation, and yes, even unicorns ("large, well-known companies [which] are choosing to stay private long past the point where they would once have gone public"). It's a cogent and interesting analysis of how we got where we are and where we might be going.

However, what really made me perk up was some excerpts from a forthcoming book by Edward Chancellor, entitled, The Price of Time: The Real Story of Interest. Here Chancellor is actually quoting "Bastiat"—probably French economist Frédéric Bastiat—and it's not clear to me where one ends and the other begins. It's the thought that counts.

In the sphere of economics, a habit, an institution, or a law engenders not just one effect but a series of effects. Of these effects only the first is immediate; it is revealed simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The others merely occur successively; they are not seen; we are lucky if we foresee them. The entire difference between a bad and a good Economist is apparent here. A bad one relies on the visible effect, while the good one takes account of both the effect one can see and of those one must foresee.

The bad economist, says Bastiat, pursues a small current benefit that is followed by a large disadvantage in the future, while the good economist pursues a large benefit in the future at the risk of suffering a small disadvantage in the near term. The American journalist Henry Hazlitt elaborated ... in his bestselling book Economics in One Lesson (1946). Like Bastiat, Hazlitt lamented the "… persistent tendency of men to see only the immediate effects of any given policy, or its effects on only a special group, and to neglect to inquire what the long-run effects of that policy will be not only on the special group but on all groups. It is the fallacy of overlooking secondary consequences."

As I read this, what struck me was its applicability to much more than economics. In particular, read the above paragraphs with an eye to the response of our leaders to the COVID-19 crisis, and you'll see a stunningly accurate description of "bad economics." A more obvious example can hardly be imagined of considering only the immediate effects of a policy, and its potential effects on only a special group, while not only neglecting, but actively suppressing, any thoughts about what might be the long-run effects of that policy on the community as a whole.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, June 28, 2022 at 5:25 am | Edit
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From the official travel.state.gov website:

The CDC order from December 2, 2021, requiring persons aged two and above to show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States, is rescinded, effective June 12, 2022, at 12:01AM ET. This means that starting at 12:01AM ET on June 12, 2022, air passengers will not need to get tested and show a negative COVID-19 test result or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 prior to boarding a flight to the United States regardless of vaccination status or citizenship.

Hallelujah! I expect a large jump in foreign travel now, because as we know from vivid personal experience, the threat of finding yourself stranded in a foreign country for an indeterminate period of time is a big deterrent to travel.

The news is not quite so good for tourist destinations in America, as the order is still in effect requiring foreign visitors to be vaccinated. We haven't quite caught up to countries like Switzerland, which officially states,

There are currently no entry restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No proof of vaccination, recovery or testing is required for entry into Switzerland.

But we have made a very good, if overdue, start.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, June 12, 2022 at 3:20 pm | Edit
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I've written before about our city's decades-long interest in innovation, particularly with regard to wastewater solutions. Here's another reason to be a happy resident-and-taxpayer, featured in our local city newsletter. Turn to pages 4-5 to read about our public-private partnership that aims to turn two problems—algae bloom in lakes, and biosolids from wastewater treatment—into oil and natural gas. Our little pilot program produces only 4-6 gallons of crude oil in a day, which is 1/7 of a barrel at best. (The U.S. consumes about 20 million barrels of oil per day.) But hey, it's a start! And our lakes are getting cleaner.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at 8:15 am | Edit
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We're suffering from an epidemic of corporate philanthropy.

Businesses, especially large corporations, are bragging loud and long about their so-called good deeds, whether political or environmental or social or anything else trending in pop culture.

I am not impressed.

If you are a local business (even if that business is a franchise of something larger), and you host fundraisers for your local high school crew team or church youth group, or if you offer goods and services to first responders and disaster victims in your community, go for it. I'm likely to think better of you. That's neighborliness.

But anything on a grander scale than that, no. When you donate funds to support political parties, or activist organizations, or the arts, or even the most benign of charities, whose money are you really spending? Unless you have no shareholders, no employees, no board of directors, and no customers, there's a case to be made that you are making them all unwitting—and in many cases unwilling—donors to your own favorite causes.

Here's what I suggest.

Do you have some extra profit you want to do good with? Consider any or all of the following:

  • Give all your employees an across-the-board raise. Or a one-time bonus, if you're afraid the profits won't be sustainable.
  • Increase the dividends you pay your stockholders.
  • Decrease your prices.

In this way you would help your workers/investors/customers—those who make your profit possible—in a tangible way, while at the same time increasing their ability to support the causes they believe in, instead of the pet causes of a small group of elite corporate decision-makers.

It's your choice. If you want to use company profits to support a particular presidential candidate, or to buy the CEO a new yacht, that's your business. Just don't expect the world to believe that your actions are virtuous.

Is there anything more hypocritical than being generous with other people's money?

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 20, 2022 at 6:09 am | Edit
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My brother graduated from Oberlin College, which automatically gave it a place in my heart—well, that and the amazing Gibson's doughnuts he'd bring with him when he came home on vacation.

When our daughter was interviewing at colleges, the shine came off Oberlin a bit. The school openly bragged about its "progressive" reputation, but to my surprise we found it to be the least open-minded of all the schools any of our children had visited—especially when it came to home education. Every other college was happy to accept homeschooled students, but Oberlin was clearly reactionary and suspicious, putting up the most onerous barriers to their acceptance. But she chose to go elsewhere for other reasons, so I chose to remember Oberlin for the doughnuts.

Recently, however, I heard news of an incident that began over five years ago and is still dragging on, shaking my respect to the core. Probably I shouldn't be too hard on Oberlin, as my own alma mater disillusioned me years ago. But in this case, Gibson's Bakery is involved. Colleges have gotten away with many terrible things, but let them mess with good doughnuts, and I must speak up.

The excerpts below are from the relevant Wikipedia article. I know Wikipedia is hardly the most reliable source, and has its biases, but I chose it because of all the articles I read, its was the most positive toward the college.

The beginning, November 2016

An underage African-American Oberlin College student ... attempted to purchase a bottle of wine using a fake identification card. The store clerk, Allyn D. Gibson ... rejected the fake ID. Gibson noticed that the student was concealing two other bottles of wine inside his jacket. According to a police report, Gibson told the student he was contacting the police, and when Gibson pulled out his phone to take a photo of the student, the student slapped it away, striking Gibson's face. The student ran out of the store. Gibson followed and then grabbed and held onto the shoplifter outside the store after the shoplifter had also assaulted the store owner.... Two other students ... friends of the shoplifter, joined the scuffle. When the police arrived, they witnessed Gibson lying on the ground with the three students punching and kicking him. The police report stated that Gibson sustained a swollen lip, several cuts, and other minor injuries. The police arrested the students, charging all three with assault and the shoplifter with robbery as well. In August 2017, the three students pleaded guilty, stating that they believed Gibson's actions were justified and were not racially motivated. Their plea deals carried no jail time in exchange for restitution, the public statement, and a promise of future good behavior.

Oberlin's actions

Of course the college responded to the incident by disciplining the students involved, right? Not a chance. Students, faculty, and administrators united to attack the store.

The day after the incident, faculty and hundreds of students gathered in a park across the street from Gibson's Bakery protesting what they saw as racial profiling and excessive use of force by Gibson toward the shoplifter. The Oberlin Student Senate immediately passed a resolution saying that the bakery "has a history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment of students and residents alike," calling for all students to "immediately cease all support, financial and otherwise, of Gibson's," and called upon Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov to publicly condemn the bakery. For about two months, the college suspended its purchasing agreement with the bakery for the school's dining halls....

Oberlin blamed the bakery for bringing the protests on itself, claiming that "Gibson bakery's archaic chase-and-detain policy regarding suspected shoplifters was the catalyst for the protests...."

The following, apparently, is what the college thinks should be done with students who steal:

Oberlin made a proposal to all local businesses that if a business would contact the college instead of the police when students were caught shoplifting, the college would advise the students that if caught shoplifting a second time they would face legal charges.

There's more, and worse. I went to college in the early 1970's; I know that students, and even faculty, can do some pretty stupid things. But in my day the administrators were a little more sane and stable.

The other side of the story

Local police records showed no previous accusations of racial profiling by Gibson's Bakery. Of the forty adults arrested for shoplifting from the bakery in a five-year period, only six were black. As a part of the three students' guilty plea in August 2017, each read a statement saying, "I believe the employees of Gibson’s actions were not racially motivated. They were merely trying to prevent an underage sale." Reporters obtained an email written by ... an employee for the school's communications department, telling her bosses that she found the protests "very disturbing," saying, "I have talked to 15 townie friends who are [persons of color] and they're disgusted and embarrassed by the protest. In their view, the kid was breaking the law, period... To them this is not a race issue at all." During the trial ... a black man who worked his way through technical college while working at Gibson’s Bakery testified that the racist allegations against his former employer were untrue. "In my life, I have been a marginalized person, so I know what it feels like to be called something that you know you’re not. I could feel his pain. I knew where he was coming from." ... [A] black man, employed at Gibson's since 2013, testified that he had observed no racist treatment of customers or employees. "Never, not even a hint. Zero reason to believe, zero evidence of that."

The latest judicial ruling

On April 1, 2022, the Ninth Ohio District Court of Appeals dismissed Oberlin College's appeal. In a 3-0 decision, the panel upheld the jury verdict that Oberlin College defamed, inflicted distress, and illegally interfered with the bakery. The damages were capped by Ohio state law at $25 million in total damages, in place of the jury's original verdict of $11.1 million in compensatory and $33.2 million in punitive damages. Oberlin was also ordered to pay $6.3 million in attorney's fees to the bakery.

Oberlin is still refusing to pay what they owe, and two of the owners of Gibson's Bakery have died awaiting justice.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, May 14, 2022 at 6:21 am | Edit
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Amongst the devastating consequences of the Russo-Ukranian War is the disappearance from public eye of the power grab by Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and his tyrannical handling of the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa.

Actually, a few European politicians did make note of it, calling out Trudeau for his hypocrisy in condemning Russian president Putin while trampling the rights of his own citizens back home.  But largely that is yesterday's news.

So today I remember.

This beautiful 14-minute tribute by JB TwoFour (about whom I know nothing but this) bought tears to our eyes as we saw the familiar scenes replayed: the love, the joy, the unity of Canadians in all their diversity, and the support from other nations.  Followed, alas, by replacement of the friendly interactions with local law enforcement by an irrational show of force from the government and imported police agencies. 

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(Yes, the misspelling of "Israel" also brought tears to my eyes, but that's just me.)

May history remember the Freedom Convoy as the turning point in Canada's return to sanity, respect for basic human rights, and constitutional protection for its citizens—instead of the minor footnote Prime Minister Trudeau and his supporters are counting on.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 8, 2022 at 2:52 pm | Edit
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