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Stephanie C. Fox

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Controversies – Because Intrigue Is What Counts

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Victoria Falls Blue Iris Queen Bee - with green dot Pastel Pink Peony Blossom in the Shady Garden

Blog Posts – Stephanie C. Fox on Law, Politics, Women, and More

Welcome to the blog of QueenBeeEdit!

This blog discusses the issues that are dealt with in my books:

Women’s issues and feminism, politics, ecosystems collapse, human overpopulation, history/herstory, Asperger’s/autism and Aspie voices, banksters and hedge fundsters and their role in economic meltdowns, people in fiction, Hawai‘i, Kuwait and other nations in the Middle East, cats, and travel.

This blog discusses all of the issues that my books deal with and more.

Controversial issues and statements will not be avoided. They are what makes life interesting and worth pondering.

Articles and websites will be shared here, with my thoughts on them.

Enjoy perusing it all.

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Iris Blossoms, Peonies, and Global Footprint Calculations.

Sometime last week, I received an e-mail from the Global Footprint Network that said that this year, Earth Overshoot Day will fall on August 1st.

Global Footprint Network

It gets earlier every year.

Next year, we’ll have it in July. Yay, humans, for depleting a year’s worth of the Earth’s resources earlier and earlier each year.

I try to relax when I think of such things – and I insist upon thinking of such things daily – by enjoying my garden.

May and June are the best times of the year for flowers, in my opinion, because my favorite colors and flowers bloom then.

That means iris blossoms, peonies, and other wonderful pastels of pinks, blues, and lavenders.

I have my usual sign up for the insecticide demon, telling him not to poison the place. I want the bees to visit!

The sign and the e-mails I send out to the condominium association’s management company seem to work, but I wish there were no insecticide service at all, because bees forage over an area of roughly 4 square miles. That’s plenty of room to get nerve damage from neonicotinoids sprayed nearby.

What a cheerful thought.

But, I can’t help it. I researched all this and wrote about in The Bear Guarding the Beehive, which included 3 bee field trips with my camera. The last one was to the Connecticut Apiary Inspector.

It’s a good thing I did that, because a few years ago, the Connecticut Apiary Inspector was almost cut from Connecticut’s state budget. Fortunately, I had this book ready, complete with the law, science, and politics of bees and their problems and benefits to humans and to the ecosystem ready. I gave a copy to the governor and pointed it out to legislators. I also pointed out that I had published a Letter to the Editor in The Hartford Courant, entitled State Bee Inspector Crucial, had written a blog post about this, and the Connecticut Beekeeping Association had a petition to keep the inspector on the budget. In the end, he was put back on the budget…with more pay. That felt good.

Back to the garden while it’s at its most beautiful…

The Victoria Falls Blue iris plant was the first one I put in the garden, several years ago. I buy forced bulbs at the local plant nurseries, dig a hole, put the contents in carefully, and add water.

This method seems to work well.

The pink irises are Beverly Sills ones, according to the notice that came with them. The lavender-to-purple bearded ones – and I always get bearded ones, because of the scent – have no name.

The pink granite bird bath came from Cape Cod, as a lovely surprise from my parents. It’s an abstract heart shape, and I keep a large pink rock in it for the bees to sit on as they drink the water.

It has to be scrubbed out every few days – algae grows, and it accumulates dirt – so I keep an old kitchen scrub brush outside by the hose.

There is also a hummingbird feeder and a birdseed feeder, which has been visited by a red-breasted grosbeak. We call the bird-feeders and windows Cat TV.

That’s the Phantom Menace on the left and Ms. Chief Cherie on the right – in each image.

They love to watch the birds.

They also have to control themselves to some extent – no leaping at the glass! Birds are, after all, little dinosaurs, and they react to movement of any kind.

Just remember Jurassic Park!

The dinosaurs, with the exception of birds, which are the smallest of that species, went extinct when an asteroid hit the Earth.

It wasn’t their fault.

What we humans are doing to our planet, however, is very much our fault.

We use too much plastic. I harangued and harassed my mother and uncle yesterday at a town fair when we bought our lunches to NOT get any straws.

There is a now-infamous video in which a marine veterinarian pulls, with great difficulty, a plastic straw out of a sea turtle’s nostril.

 

There is blood and the turtle is in obvious pain. Straws don’t just go “away” in the recycle bins. They also get washed into the ecosystem and out to sea…and go up the noses of wildlife.

 

I would love to have my family try out the Global Footprint Calculator, just to see what they make of it. I think I will suggest it…why not? Done – I paused while writing this to send it.

Footprint Calculator

I’ll have to wait a while for that. Back to the garden again…

The pastel pinks and blues grew in fabulous clusters, while across the path from them, well under half their height, grows a lavender-hued Dutch iris with variegated leaves.

They all have different scents, all sweet, but the Dutch iris is the sweetest, like fruit punch.

The lighter the hue of a flower, the more intense its scent is.

All this reminds me of the narrator of my Nae-Nee series, Avril. She revels in her garden, and has great fun planning more and more elaborate and eco-friendly systems for it.

The Global Footprint Network is mentioned in these 3 dystopian novels, as are the videos and links shown in this blog post.

The books include pet cats because, well, why not? They are: Spock, the gray Chartreux; Eowyn, the tortie-shelter cat; and Mallory, the British shorthair who is white with black tiger-stripes.

They look out the windows at birds and other wildlife, fascinated but forbidden to go outside.

We had another cat who enjoyed all this, named Scheherazade. We kept her indoors, too.

She was a Kuwaiti calico, and the softest cat I ever petted.

I wrote the story of how she was found and adopted: Scheherazade Cat – The Story of a War Hero.

There is one more story to tell about her, so stay tuned for it.

Meanwhile, my mind keeps returning to bad news.

Trump is bad for the ecosystem, bad for human overpopulation, and bad for the pursuit of any kind of happiness. So is Pence. Well…they have demonstrated their contempt for the U.S. Constitution and for the principles that the Founders of our nation valued – repeatedly.

By all means, annoy Pence by donating to Planned Parenthood and to the National Abortion Rights Action League in his name.

Here is the latest insult to women and to the ecosystem perpetrated by the Trump administration:

Trump’s new Title X plan requires ineffective birth control most women don’t want

This is exactly the point that Avril makes to a forced-birther, anti-abortion gynecologist early on in the Nae-Nee series: that people like to have sex, that many have absolutely no interest in abstinence, and that it is unrealistic to expect anyone to rely on any method that doesn’t guarantee both the ability to have sex AND to not get pregnant while doing so.

But it is common knowledge that Pence is delusional and illogical, and that Trump is a hypocrite who just doesn’t care about the people he took an oath to serve.

Here is a better birth control method than abstinence: tube-tying!

It just doesn’t seem right to reproduce without putting a lot of very deliberate thought into the matter – thought about whether or not the offspring will have ENOUGH of everything:

  1. Fresh fruits and vegetables;
  2. Shelter that includes personal and private space;
  3. Clean air and clean water;
  4. An excellent education;
  5. Interesting and meaningful work.

Without that, reproduction is selfish. Life on any and all terms, regardless of how miserable – is an imposition and unreasonable.

I was used to the concept that politicians are liars, but Trump and Pence – and Mitch McConnell – are beyond that.

I have met and appreciated the sort of politicians who are at least willing to try to help their people, and who accept that they may have to lie a little and compromise a little in order to get the big picture into focus for their people. Those politicians are still in office, and trying to pass laws that protect the ecosystem and maintain women’s reproductive rights – and keep them passed.

They aren’t enough, but I’m glad they’re still out there, not giving up.

I keep interspersing this post with politics and flowers rather than writing exclusively about just flowers, and I make no apology for that.

Last year, when I posted about the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden in Hartford, Connecticut, I did so to achieve the same break from the aggravation that is our political mess.

Some tedious person remarked that it was “a shame” that I had to get political.

No, it wasn’t. I meant to get political. I will never not get political! We should not simply relax and enjoy whatever it is that we enjoy without caring about the world.

It’s nice to have the encouragement in mind of Paul R. Ehrlich, Ph.D., the author of The Population Bomb, who wrote to me, “Fight on!”, but I would do so anyway!

Back to the garden – it’s just that inviting that I want to focus on it again and again at this time of year.

The peonies are spectacular, and the pastel pink ones have the most delicious scent.

People are suggesting that I make perfume out of them, eat them in salads, decorate cakes with them, and so on. Somewhere near me is an artisan vodka maker who infuses their product with peonies, which sounds wonderful…and I don’t even drink hard liquor! It’s just the idea of such pretty bottles and the thought that the alcohol might have a floral scent that attracts me.

As with any garden, some blossoms snap over, as I call it, meaning that the stems get heavy with their blossoms and the weight causes them to fall sharply downward, making a crease in the stem. At that point, I cut them neatly and enjoy them indoors in a vase or a glass of water.

This is our peony harvest – our involuntary peony harvest – on top of the refrigerator. Why? The cats won’t leave it alone…especially the Phantom Menace.

Every so often, I look with morbid fascination, just as my character Avril does, at the Worldometers page:

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

As of today, there are 7,628,211,315 humans in existence.

The Earth’s carrying capacity for humans is approximately half a billion.

No wonder we’re in overshoot!

A look at this general number doesn’t satisfy me, however.

I always click on the link that shows how many people live in each country:

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/population-by-country/

The next thing I do is I look at the total populations of random nations, comparing the numbers and thinking about why they have those particular totals.

China: 1,415,045,928

India: 1,354,051,854

United States: 326,766,748

Indonesia: 266,794,980

Bangladesh: 166,368,149

Russia: 143,964,709

Canada: 36,953,765

France: 65,233,271

Britain: 66,573,504

Nepal: 29,624,035

Saudi Arabia: 33,554,343

Kuwait: 4,197,128

Oman: 4,829,946

Japan: 127,185,332

Philippines: 106,512,074

Egypt: 99,375,741

Chile: 18,197,209

Guatemala: 17,245,346

Belgium: 11,498,519

Netherlands: 17,084,459

Switzerland: 8,544,034

Denmark: 5,754,356

Israel: 8,452,841

Palestine: 5,052,766

Malta: 432,089

Faeroe Islands: 49,489

Monaco: 38,987

Nauru: 11,312

Vatican: 801

Also, keep in mind that these numbers (with the exception of the Vatican) keep increasing with more births as you read this. There aren’t enough deaths to balance that out.

Meanwhile, the Vatican, with citizens who don’t reproduce, pushes the rest of us to do so. Of course, religion is rarely about logic…I want logic!

I want personal space, quiet, a healthy ecosystem, and control over my own body and future.

I won’t eat or drink poison deliberately, and I will check food labels. I just checked some for my aunt – a green tea that did not check out. It has aspartame for a sweetener, which is a carcinogen.

She won’t be buying or drinking any of that, nor shall I. She will brew green tea from a bag and add natural sweeteners, and chill it in her refrigerator.

Staying healthy means a bit more thought and work, but it’s worth it, and it’s better to do that and move around one’s kitchen (every step is activity/exercise), and to spend time on that rather than watching reality shows and wasting time.

There are so many fascinating books and documentaries to read and watch that I wonder how anyone can be satisfied with anything less.

And then there are gardens and nature…

Happy Spring – Avril of the Nae-Nee Series Loves This Time of Year.

Happy Spring! This is the time of year that Avril, the narrator of the Nae-Nee series, spends a lot of time going for walks, setting up her garden, and appreciating nature.

The Nae-Nee series consists of 3 dystopian novels about human overpopulation and ecosystems collapse. The story is told by Avril, a lawyer and professor who has Asperger’s, and who is the co-inventor of the birth control nanite that the series is named for. The books are in print and in digital format, available via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Avril enjoys her life as much as she possibly can, growing irises, peonies, raspberries, a huge garden full of herbs, fruits, and vegetables, and she keeps bees.

She also goes for walks, often with her camera, much to the chagrin of Ed and Aaron, the Blackout Security guards who keep her and her husband company whenever she goes out.

This means that Avril comes back with many photographic souvenirs of whatever she sees, be it flowers, the Georgia Guidestones, or displaced humans (due to sea level rise and coastal depletion) who are being relocated by militarized police and U.S. Army personnel.

Actually, Aaron and Ed aren’t concerned about the images of things such as flowers and carved stones – only about things that could get their client arrested and made to disappear.

But they are worth every penny that Hamish, Avril’s husband, pays them, so of course Avril is able to collect evidence of anything and everything that interests her as the story progresses.

So…it’s spring again, and the ecosystem is coming alive beautifully.

Avril’s garden is much more spectacular and intricately arranged – as well as spread out over more space, i.e. an entire back yard – than mine is, but she would see lots of beautiful flowers and other plants while walking around near her home, just as I do, so I shall share some images from my walks in this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Nae-Nee series, Avril plants an elaborate garden in her own back yard with the purpose of growing much of her own food. This includes herbs, because she is a gourmet cook and baker, with rosemary, basil, lavender, and whatever else she uses in her recipes. Her French-American family uses what she grows, too. She has top-frame beehives in the back yard as well, and tends those herself. She has an enclosed conservatory on one back corner of her home, full of more herbs, plus raspberries of several varieties (red, golden, and black raspberry vines). She sets up an irrigation system in her outdoor garden that captures rainwater and slowly distributes it from a decorative, metal collection tank throughout the area.

Avril doesn’t just put in the effort necessary to grow food for her family; she enjoys it.

She lives in a time of climate change and food insecurity, and although it takes a while to show that such things are affecting her part of the world, which is Connecticut in the U.S.A., she doesn’t wait for it to show she is. Avril knows about these problems and changes her life and habits early on, expanding them and making them more elaborate as time goes on. She is an above-ground survivalist, as we all must learn to be.

This doesn’t have to be unpleasant, as Avril demonstrates. It is free exercise of the physical kind (no health club fees required!), and it gets her out in the fresh air.

While she is out there, she sees and smells all of the most beautiful plants and flowers that nature has to offer.

Happy Spring!

Longing for the Past Puts One on the Wrong Side of History.

Do you occasionally receive chain e-mails from friends and/or relatives?

We probably all do.

These can be fun, harmless missives full of images that make us laugh or educate us.

These can also be indicative of the sender’s political, religious, or other leanings.

I got one about 5 years ago that has been on my mind lately.

The gist of it is a longing for the 1950s in the good old United States of America.

I often point out that the current state of our nation is one of disunion, and call us the Untied States of America.

The mere fact that the advent of Trump and Pence has caused haters to feel free to express themselves is evidence of that.

We no longer have a Cabinet that does its jobs. It is no longer one to be proud of, with professors, lawyers, engineers, physicists, ecologists, physicians – people who are qualified for their jobs.

We have a Cabinet that is packed with corporatist Farmers who view the nation as a resource to be mined to the last drop, and damn the ecosystem of tomorrow as they get money today.

We have a Vice President who likes to torture homosexuals with electric shock treatments while advocating forced birther doctrines and prayer of his own personal preference, i.e. Christian.

In short, we have a government that is doing its best to return us to the 1950s, but with a much larger human population and a thoroughly stressed ecosystem.

Du Pont and Monsanto are being given a lot of help in toxifying that ecosystem. Here is what we can thank Du Pont for: teflon’s toxic effects on its workers and on their offspring.

Teflon’s Toxic Legacy

I won’t just trust that you’ll click on this article’s link. I’m going to include some images from it right here:

Buck Bailey, whose mother worked at the Teflon plant in Parkersburg, was born with just one nostril and other facial deformities. Photos by Maddie McGarvey.

We don’t want to go back to that – but the Farmers who are infesting the Environmental Protection Agency are loosening its regulations, or outright not enforcing the ones that restrict them from allowing a repeat or continuance of such atrocities. Money first! Humans not even last…

The press is being attacked for doing its job. I just watched The Post, which is about taking the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution out for a spin and winning.

Movies such as that one are crucial reminders of what the Founders of this republic meant it to be: one that serves the governed, NOT those who govern.

The members of our current Cabinet, however, are serving themselves to huge helpings.

At this point, I shall share the e-mail that I received on October 31, 2013 here.


FYI: The Land That Made Me, Me

Long ago and far away, in a land that time forgot,
Before the days of Dylan , or the dawn of Camelot.
There lived a race of innocents, and they were you and me, 

For Ike was in the White House in that land where we were born,

Where navels were for oranges, and Peyton Place was porn. 

We longed for love and romance, and waited for our Prince,
Eddie Fisher married Liz, and no one’s seen him since. 

We danced to ‘Little Darlin,’ and sang to ‘Stagger Lee’
And cried for Buddy Holly in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

Only girls wore earrings then, and 3 was one too many,
And only boys wore flat-top cuts, except for Jean McKinney.

And only in our wildest dreams did we expect to see,
A boy named George with Lipstick, in the Land That Made Me
, Me.

We fell for Frankie Avalon, Annette was oh, so nice,
And when they made a movie, they never made it twice. 

We didn’t have a Star Trek Five, or Psycho Two and Three,
Or Rocky-Rambo Twenty in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

Miss Kitty had a heart of gold, and Chester had a limp,
And Reagan was a Democrat whose co-star was a chimp.

We had a Mr. Wizard, but not a Mr. T,
And Oprah couldn’t talk yet, in the Land That Made Me, Me.
We had our share of heroes, we never thought they’d go,
At least not Bobby Darin, or Marilyn Monroe.

For youth was still eternal, and life was yet to be,
And Elvis was forever in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

We’d never seen the rock band that was Grateful to be Dead,
And Airplanes weren’t named Jefferson , and Zeppelins were not Led.

And Beatles lived in gardens then, and Monkees lived in trees,
Madonna was Mary in the Land That Made Me, Me.

We’d never heard of microwaves, or telephones in cars,
And babies might be bottle-fed, but they were not grown in jars. 

And pumping iron got wrinkles out, and ‘gay’ meant fancy-free,
And dorms were never co-Ed in the Land That Made Me, Me.
We hadn’t seen enough of jets to talk about the lag,
And microchips were what was left at the bottom of the bag. 

And hardware was a box of nails, and bytes came from a flea,
And rocket ships were fiction in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

T-Birds came with portholes, and side shows came with freaks,
And bathing suits came big enough to cover both your cheeks. 

And Coke came just in bottles, and skirts below the knee,
And Castro came to power near the Land That Made Me, Me. 

We had no Crest with Fluoride, we had no Hill Street Blues,
We had no patterned pantyhose or Lipton herbal tea,
Or prime-time ads for those dysfunctions in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

There were no golden arches, no Perrier to chill,
And fish were not called Wanda, and cats were not called Bill. 

And middle-aged was 35 and old was forty-three,
And ancient were our parents in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

But all things have a season, or so we’ve heard them say,
And now instead of Maybelline we swear by Retin-A.
They send us invitations to join AARP,
We’ve come a long way, baby, from the Land That Made Me, Me.

So now we face a brave new world in slightly larger jeans,
And wonder why they’re using smaller print in magazines.
And we tell our children’s children of the way it used to be,
Long ago and far away in the Land That Made Me, Me.

If you didn’t grow up in the fifties, you missed the greatest time in history.
Hope you enjoyed this read as much as I did.

If so, PLEASE FORWARD to someone who might enjoy it.


The e-mail contained a lot more artwork than just the image shown at the top of this copy, plus many nice photographs.

These included airplanes, a rotary-dial telephone, a gasoline pump manned (NOT womaned) by a team of guys who would polish each customer’s vehicles, a photograph of a hot young Elvis, and more.

The elderly Republican sender of this quaint-themed message deserved a response.

What response did I send back to her?

This is it:

I love history – and made sure to study the 1950s in college.

It was in a course called The U.S. Since 1939, taught by Dan Singal, Ph.D.

What drove me crazy was the attitude by many professors, except for this one, that anything in THEIR lifetime was not history, while we students longed for a history class that covered whatever had happened before our own lifetimes began.

This class offered it.

Since that course, I have looked at that era some more.

The 1950s were a time of rigid conformity.

I would not have been happy then.

The only people who could expect to be happy at that time were those who inherently fit the mold that this graphic describes.

It is important to look at it in that perspective.

I want my original surname while being married, I have Asperger’s, and I am not conventional. Also, I am a feminist and political liberal, while Ike, popular though he was, was a Republican who allowed Iran’s only democratically elected leader, Mohammad Mossadegh, Ph.D., to be overthrown in a coup orchestrated by the C.I.A. and British Intelligence.

The 1950s seem like a place to visit as a tourist…knowing that my time machine would safely and reliably get me back to now.

What is it that makes people long for particular points in time that they remember? Is it that they wish to be a certain age again? That they wish for the exact feeling that that time gave them when they were that age? Both? Is it the mental state of not knowing all of the disturbing things that we know now, such as that the Republican Party has few reasonable members, and that climate change has rendered the seasons that we all grew up with so different, making our years feel different? (I too am old enough to remember life before the seasons were all screwed up by carbon pollution and ocean acidification.)

She did not object to this note, and why would she – I was careful to keep it friendly and thoughtful.

There are some oppressive things that the 1950s exemplified. One story that sticks in my mind is the treatment of a young woman whose parents cut off her college tuition money because she wanted to use the courtesy title “Ms.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ms.). She managed to finish without their help, but that story is shocking in its effort at imposition of rigid conformity.

Not my parents! I was a teenager during the 1980s, and had decided I wanted to use that courtesy title at age 8 after seeing it in my 3rd grade textbook. My parents did not approve of stifling individuality in their offspring, so they didn’t do that. I have a strong personality, too. (Insert grin here.)

What else went on in the 1950s? Homosexuals had to hide to survive. African-Americans were still being terrorized and lynched, and obstructed from voting in the process.

Things like that still happen, but bringing them back into fashion is another thing entirely. Such things ought to be demonized, and no one should have to hide who and what they are.

I know of someone in my parents’ generation who came from a religious, Baptist family, who was pushed to marry a Baptist engineer. The engineer turned out to be a homosexual whose mother knew what he was and demanded that he hide it from the world, and even marry a woman without telling her what he was. Of course the marriage failed. He was also caught having affairs with young boys, and possibly murdered years later. How different their lives might have been if attitudes were different during their generation – but their lives were ruined instead by the attitudes that prevailed at that time.

This appeared on Facebook the day after Trump and Pence were declared the winners of the 2016 election:

It was posted by an African-American woman. It showed that haters had suddenly felt free to express themselves, a thing that they should feel forever inhibited from doing.

That e-mail longing for the state of mind that the 1950s made possible could never make me lapse into daydreaming about quaint time travel experiences.

It only made me think of how I would hate to live in a society with that mindset, unable to be my unconventional self without harassment and without acceptance – and I am a white heterosexual female! But I am also a liberal feminist intellectual Wiccan and heretic who doesn’t want to take care of babies or little kids, but instead prefers to write, study, visit museums and historic sites, and experiment with gourmet cooking and baking. No – the 1950s would not be a good “home” for me, let alone the gays, lesbians, non-whites, non-Christians, and other “others” of the world.

As I read and re-read this piece, I thought about what it meant. It speaks of a rejection of succeeding generations and all that matters to and impacts us.

This is not a new phenomenon, but it is one that we must all be careful of, because it has a tendency to bring oneself down on the wrong side of history.

What is the “wrong” side? It is one of hate, rejection of all that is “other” than oneself, and of a refusal to value education before business interests.

Money is temporary. It is a means to an end, not the end itself. Yes, we need some, but no one needs it the excessive amounts that the Farmers insist upon accruing.

These amounts have caused such an economic disparity as to make American household economies vs. those of the Farmers resemble that of the populace vs. the aristocracy of France in 1789.

That is dangerous.

It is dangerous to democracy – as dangerous as human overpopulation – and to the health of those who not only have enough, but who have such excess as to make it impossible for most others to have enough. Having enough – and for it to be possible for almost everyone to have enough – is what keeps people and societies safe.

Safety is good. We should all strive for it. We do all strive for it.

But with things as they are right now, far too many of us cannot attain enough, and therefore we cannot achieve the safety that is essential to us.

I do not long for the inequalities of the 1950s. I do not wish to bring any of them back.

Scott Pruitt is the Bear Guarding the EPA-Beehive – It’s a Blatant Conflict of Interest.

I wrote a book a few years ago about honeybee colony collapse that outlines the legal obstacles to applying scientific solutions to the problem, plus obstacles posed by wealthy and powerful corporations, which include the money that they throw at politicians and the lobbyists they hire to achieve this. The corporations inflict permanent damage on our ecosystems this way for money today, the health and continue of its source tomorrow be damned.

When I wrote that book, I did so using allegory and metaphor, and I did that because it’s fun. It’s fun to write, and it’s fun to read. It also condenses the narrative.

Sources for the assertions in The Bear Guarding the Beehive are provided in a bibliography at the end of the book.

I like allegory.

Allegory is defined as the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence.

Source: Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company: Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A., 1981.

I also like metaphor.

Metaphor is defined as a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.

Source: Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company: Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A., 1981.

As I said, both make writing more fun.

Straightforward, plain words can get dull, dry, and stale. Academic writing is like that, and it serves its purpose as source material, but it has an inaccessible feel to most people.

That’s not good when a writer wants to reach and connect with everyone else, particularly voters and future voters.

Present and future voters, along with the honeybees, the air and water quality, and academic science have been handed a traitor to natural security in EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Here is his portrait:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Pruitt

A perusal of his Wikipedia page shows all of the indicators of a traitor to natural security.

This statement from its introductory section sums up what the ecosystem and scientists and voters who care about it are up against with Pruitt:

“Pruitt rejects the scientific consensus that human-caused carbon dioxide emissions are a primary contributor to climate change. As EPA administrator, Pruitt reversed and delayed numerous environmental rules, relaxed enforcement of existing rules, and halted the agency’s efforts to combat climate change.”

Pruitt not only wants to wish science away – he wants to shove it away and launch it into the nearest obliging volcano. That won’t make science any less true, but he is doing his utmost.

He has waged constant war against the scientists of the Environmental Protection Agency since taking over its leadership, refusing to fully staff the agency, and undermining the efforts of its scientists to pursue inquiry into species collapses, air and water quality controls, shunting them into meaningless bureaucratic posts. He has gutted the scientific advisory boards of the EPA and defended huge budget cuts, hobbling the agency’s ability to do its work.

The EPA wasn’t perfect, but trying to kill it, as Scott Pruitt is doing, is the opposite of useful. A thing that is not perfect should be tweaked and improved upon, not destroyed.

Of course, a Farmer who spent his career before arriving at the EPA does not want to do that. It’s all about enabling huge corporations to make yet huger profits for him, the future be damned.

That’s why one of those scientists is suing him.

I’m suing Scott Pruitt’s broken EPA – here’s how to fix it

The damage currently being done is a huge step backwards in the effort to safeguard our natural security.

Getting rid of this Farmer and ensuring that he won’t simply be replaced with another one will be a huge undertaking, but that’s not all.

Once that is accomplished, scientists and attorneys will have to reinstate the parameters of the EPA as it was, thus wasting a lot of additional time that ought to have been spent on strengthening protections for bees and other pollinators.

That’s why I said that the bees need a good lawyer, and by good I mean ethical as well as competent.

There is hope in that Scott Pruitt’s lack of ethics is leaving trails wherever he goes.

EPA Chief Pruitt Faces Mounting Scrutiny For Ethics Violations

Pruitt has infested the EPA with Farmers who have ties to corporations that are regulated by the EPA. He has also hired lobbyists who worked for those corporations to staff the EPA.

That’s a conflict of interest.

He doesn’t want to hear a word of protest on airplane rides from the public, so he rides first class.

Scott Pruitt Has to Fly First Class Because Coach Is “Politically Toxic”

This is not the behavior of a public servant; it’s the behavior of a corporatist Farmer.

He doesn’t care. He prefers to blatantly conduct himself like a spoiled brat and one who would have been an aristocratic candidate for the guillotine in 1789.

His standard operating procedure is one conflict of interest after another, but I have provided references for it as well as examples of it.

Natural Security is the safety and future sustainability of a functioning ecosystem, one that is not toxic to the life forms that exist in it.

The problem is that corporations exist to make a profit for their shareholders, and corporations are soulless entities.

They exist to enrich themselves and only themselves. They exist to grow exponentially and without limits.

It is worth noting that this description also fits for cancer.

It is also worth noting that this description fits the definition of evil (I have got to stop letting Ash vs. Evil Dead run when it comes on television, but that’s another story.)

Here is another favorite metaphor of mine: Scott Pruitt is the epitome of a corporatist Farmer.

A Farmer is a member of the wealthy, selfish few who views the rest of humanity as a crop to be manipulated as he or she finds convenient, and to be erased as that rest of humanity demands civil rights and enough resources to have a comfortable, meaningful, happy life.

It’s another form of cancerous evil to be so avaricious and determined to grab resource after resource, no matter who or what gets in the way in the process, that few others have enough.

Political cartoonist Dan Wasserman summed up the problem very neatly in this March 2018 image:

There are actually 2 books that I wrote using allegory and metaphor to describe the legalized crimes of Farmers:

The first one is The Book of Thieves, which describers the banksters and hedge fundsters and how they caused the economic collapse of 2008, and then made sure that they didn’t have to pay a cent for it. We need the Glass-Steagall Act of 1932 to be reinstated, because it mandated a divorce and a consistent firewall between commercial and investment banking. That is the best way to protect against a repeat of the Great Depression, as well as against another Great Recession. However, the Farmers don’t want that. They want unfettered access to pension funds, savings accounts, and whatever else they can grab, the ability to comingle funds, and not a peep of protest from the rest of us.

The second one is The Bear Guarding the Beehive. I went on 3 beekeeper field trips for that one with my camera, which was a lot of fun. One of its points is that when one sprays insecticide into the environment, its effects reach any living thing that it touches and any living thing that touches what is sprayed. The upshot of that is that it is not just the insects that one doesn’t like who get nerve damage and die. They all die. The Farmers, of course, don’t care. All that matters to them is that homeowners with gardens and lawns seek monocrops of green grass, that huge agribusinesses use their genetically engineered crops and spray more neurotoxins every which way, poisoning farm workers and pollinator insects, and that no one without massive financial resources get in their way.

Farmers will hire attorneys who with prostitute – and pestitute – themselves and their legal careers for money and professional advancement. One of the end games is for such attorneys to eventually get seats on Federal benches, so that they may then rule in favor of continuing to allow the ecosystem to be toxified. As species die off and opposing attorneys put up a fight, those attorneys will be called “activists” – weaponizing that term as if it weren’t the most honorable use of freedom of speech…but it certainly is.

Farmers will sponsor politicians to do pass laws that favor their desire to market insecticides and create financial and legal loopholes that make all that easier and easier.

Farmers will pay lobbyists who have no ethics but instead want wealth and comfort for themselves, and damn the needs of anyone who comes after their own life spans.

We don’t have much time left to stop our ecosystems from being crashed, but let’s try anyway.

It’s better to fight than to just say that the Farmers have far too much money and power to be stopped.

Book Review: ‘Scheherazade Cat – The Story Of A War Hero’ by Stephanie C. Fox

Book Review: ‘Scheherazade Cat – The Story Of A War Hero’ by Stephanie C. Fox

Mitigative Action versus Corrective Action – Postponement Is Always Easier Than Prevention

It is always cheaper, easier, and involves far less change of long-established habits, practices, and preferences to mitigate conditions that, if left unchanged, will inevitably lead to disaster, than it is to take corrective action and prevent that disaster altogether.

We just had this year’s World Water Day, and meanwhile, in Cape Town, South Africa, Zero Water Day has been pushed back to 2019.

City of Cape Town | Day Zero | Pushed Out to 2019

Why is that?

It’s postponement. The city’s water authorities don’t want to face heightened crime rates and civil unrest over water scarcity and rationing, complete with military supervision, any sooner than they absolutely have to. They have upped the output of dams and levies, and thus postponed all that.

I’m talking about human overpopulation and the conditions that go with it: overcrowding, depletion of species, extinction of species, pollution, resource scarcity, resource wars, police surveillance states, parochialism and isolationism (defense mechanisms against the privations caused by human overpopulation), mass migrations, and so on.

We humans are literally drowning in our own excrement in many locations. One of them is Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The dysfunctional megacity: why Dhaka is bursting at the sewers

That’s not just some attention-grabbing, sensationalist statement. It’s true: Dhaka is prone to flooding several times a month, it is overpopulated by Bengali people fleeing rising sea levels who have lost their rural homes to permanent flooding, and as a result, the city’s sanitation systems, which are nowhere near as advanced as they need to be to cope with the demands on them, are brimming with sewage. This must be manually removed by human beings using bamboo sticks, ladders, and hand scoops – that’s human hands used as scooping tools. The people who do this work are from the Hindu dalit caste, also known as untouchables. That’s how they get that label: by doing work that no one else – no one with access to enough resources to be able to choose any other work – will consent to do. They are not thanked for their efforts. They are shunned. Not only that, but recently, three of them drowned in an effort to clear a blocked hole, and a fourth died at the hospital.

Meanwhile, in France, the bird population is starving to death thanks to relentless use of insecticides. Its ecosystems are dying off. Of all places to have that happen, the land of the most exquisite cuisine, which is made possible by those ecosystems, it is not immune to the disaster of collapse.

‘Catastrophe’ as France’s bird population collapses due to pesticides

Even though the law there puts the burden of proof on insecticide manufacturers to show that their product does not destroy the ecosystem before it can be used, it is still doing tremendous damage.

When I see such things continuing to happen, I am both glad that I made the effort to fight it by writing The Bear Guarding the Beehive, and frustrated by a fear that it will not convince enough people – or the ones positioned to stop this disaster.

We have a problem now in the Untied States of America (yes, Untied, NOT United): we are stuck, at least for the time being, in a kakistocracy.

A kakistocracy (/ˌkækɪsˈtɒkrəsi, –ˈstɒk-/) is a system of government which is run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens.[1][2] The word was coined as early as the 17th century.[3] It was also used by English author Thomas Love Peacock in 1829, but gained significant usage in the 21st century.
Etymology
The word comes from the Greek words kakistos (κάκιστος; worst) and kratos (κράτος; rule), with a literal meaning of government by the worst people.[4] Linguistic equivalents of the English word kakistocracy are as follows: Its Greek equivalent is kakistokratia (κακιστοκρατία), Spanish kakistocracia, French kakistocratie, German Kakistokratie, and Russian kakistokratiya (какистократия).[5][6][7][8]

At least Robert Mueller is getting closer to amassing the evidence needed to fix this.

Evidence of cyber crimes and treason is mounting faster and faster. No wonder Trump keeps tweeting angrier and more defense nonsense every day.

I hope that it catches up with Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer, who financed Cambridge Analytica, and Steve Bannon, who named it, and soon…and I have plenty of company.

Hedge fund billionaire and Cambridge Analytica financiers Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer. She runs Renaissance Technologies, the hedge fund that he owns.

How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions

There has been some other good news recently, on the gerrymandering front. In Pennsylvania, a new voting district map, created on the instructions of that state’s Democratic governor by “Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford law professor and an expert in legislative districting”. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito rejected pleas from Pennsylvania Republicans to hear any appeal of the case, and the other justices refused to comment. As a matter of law, that’s it. The U.S. Supreme Court won’t intervene in state law once that state’s top court has ruled on a matter of state law.

Supreme Court Won’t Block New Pennsylvania Voting Maps

Isolating ourselves won’t fix this. Not using social media to interact online is no solution. What we have to do is to be careful how we use the Internet instead of enjoying every quiz and questionnaire that pops into view, and to not accept any story without checking its source first, perhaps on a debunking site such as www.Snopes.com.

Don’t quit Facebook, but don’t trust it, either

There’s no need to say this my way when the authors of the article did so already – but I do want to point it out:

“Facebook has the technical know-how to give users more control over their private data, but has chosen not to – and that’s not surprising. No laws or other institutional rules require it, or provide necessary oversight to ensure that it does. Until a major social media platform like Facebook is required to reliably and transparently demonstrate that it is protecting the interests of its users – as distinct from its advertising customers – the calls to break the company up and start afresh are only going to grow.”

Experts like Paul R. Ehrlich and Thomas Robert Malthus, to name just a couple, have been repeatedly mocked and castigated for offering up dire predictions about human overpopulation.

The criticism that is often leveled at them is that their dire predictions did not come to pass when they said that they would, or that they were averted.

That’s not what actually happened, though.

Look at it more objectively.

Those weren’t predictions, which are the work of psychics.

They were warnings.

These warnings were based on careful research and logical reasoning.

So what happened?

The warnings were heeded just enough to postpone disaster, but not enough to avert it.

Therefore, Professor Ehrlich continues to speak about the real and present danger posed by human overpopulation.

Paul Ehrlich: ‘Collapse of civilisation is a near certainty within decades’

Disaster is not averted. It still looms ahead, and we cannot put it off indefinitely and continue to reproduce as much as we wish to.

We are in environmental overshoot, using up the entirety of the resources that our planet can offer our species within a year by early August. Soon that point will be in July instead.

We are using more than 3 planet Earths’ worth of resources each year, but we only have one Earth.

We are crashing its ecosystems and using up all that our planet has to offer.

We can’t just move to Mars, a planet that is dangerous to get to, one that is about a quarter the size of ours with 38 percent of the gravity that Earth has.

We don’t have the technology to move to another solar system and settle on a planet there that is comparable to Earth, and even if we did, we would likely find that it is already occupied by a species a lot like ours that won’t want to share…and that may not have enough to share due to the same profligate consumption of resources that we have been and continue committing.

Professor Ehrlich and I both continue to speak and write about human overpopulation, however unpopular a thing that is to do.

We will do it even when called monsters and worse, because making no effort to reduce human numbers is suicide.

I am the author of a 3-novel series on human overpopulation: Nae-Née. It is named for a birth control nanite, the name of which means “Not-Born”.

The books are available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble, and are available as both e-books (Kindle and Nook) and in print via IngramSpark.

Each book has a detailed bibliography at the end, listing my research, but the books themselves are dystopian fiction, because it is far more fun to learn something from a story than via dull, dry, academic research.

I have donated copies of this series (along with other books that I have authored) to libraries near my home in Connecticut.

At one such library, I sat down and showed each of these books, plus others, to the head librarian, who was eager to acquire my bee book, and who said that each one would be read by the librarians before being added to their collection, as per library policy. (She did seem pleased to get the series. However, I wondered whether or not such a topic as my favorite one would be accepted. When I mentioned this to my father, he said not to worry, that they were just screening for “smut” because some angry parents had caught their teenagers with some trashy novels the year before.)

As I got up and walked away from the desk, I looked back and saw that another librarian was sitting on the other side. She was in the final trimester of a pregnancy, and looked hostile. Obviously, she had heard what Nae-Née was about. I was not sorry about my books, however. I had discussed them calmly and politely, with no exhortations for government to order anyone to abort late-term pregnancies.

What I want is a population policy, even though it won’t be popular. I don’t care much for popularity. It would be nice, but it’s not high on my list. Being read and taken seriously is.

I know that I am raising an issue that is unpleasant, one that, if dealt with before our species suffers famine, drought, and the terror of eating itself, will lead to anger and disappointment for those who wish to reproduce and have the fun of seeing their own phenotypes replicated on other human beings.

That’s a big reason why so many kids need to be adopted but are not.

We need a policy that has an enforcement mechanism like the one in my books.

We need to do what our species does not want to do.

The problem won’t just solve itself, however many Millennials decide that reproducing is unaffordable, and that the Earth cannot, due to climate change and species depletions, offer another generation a comfortable, happy life. They are doing the right thing, saddled as they are by student loan debt and housing costs that are pricing them out of the markets, and considering the plastic pollution that is choking the oceans. But it won’t be enough by a long shot.

No Children Because of Climate Change? Some People Are Considering It

Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Now Twice the Size of Texas and It’s Rapidly Getting WorseMark Twain said “It is better to be popular than right.”

Greenpeace together with the #breakfreefromplastic coalition conduct a beach cleanup activity and brand audit on Freedom Island, Parañaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines. The activity aims to name the brands most responsible for the plastic pollution happening in our oceans. A banner reads “Polluted by Single-use Plastic”. Freedom island is an ecotourism area which contains a mangrove forest and swamps providing a habitat for many migratory bird species from different countries such as China, Japan and Siberia. Credit: Daniel Müller/Greenpeace

 

“The people behind #BluePlanet2 say there was rarely a time during filming that they didn’t come across plastic in the sea. https://t.co/S2tPlrUPBJ”

I have quoted him before, but it is worth doing it again, because what he meant was not that we shouldn’t say what is so and what is correct, but that life is easier when one is popular.

It would probably make my life easier if I spent my career writing cute little novellas with idyllic scenes, murder mysteries with gourmet recipes scattered into the chapters, or other such things.

But I prefer to write about social issues.

Mark Twain wrote about social issues: anti-slavery, voting rights for women and all races of humans, and more.

I used to do tours at his Hartford, Connecticut home, where he spent his happiest years, so I had time to learn about him. That place is worth visiting.

But back to human overpopulation.

Paul Ehrlich bought the first of my books on human overpopulation (when it was my only one on that topic). He sent me a gift, too: an autographed copy of one of his own, entitled The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment, with a personal note encouraging me to “fight on”.

I will.

Get Ready for Civil Unrest and Bloodbaths Where the Water Runs Out

Zero Water Day is approaching in Cape Town, South Africa.

Warnings about the consequences of water depletion were ignored.

Or so the reports say.

Watch: Cape Town Water Crisis – ‘City of Cape Town was warned’

I doubt that the politicians in Cape Town simply didn’t listen.

More likely, they don’t know how to cope with this problem.

It is quite daunting.

When I say that they don’t know how, I don’t mean water delivery, water desalination, water purification, water damming, water aquifers.

Their engineers know all that, and their politicians have been listening to them and looking at the data.

What I mean is that human overpopulation will overtake their efforts to manage and control this problem.

With more humans living there than there were 311 years ago, which is how far apart scientists say a drought of this severity occurs there, and no population policy in sight, let alone discussed, this crisis was guaranteed. That number is roughly 3,766,000. (http://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities/cape-town-population/)

Residents are on rations of water – down to just enough for a 4-minute shower per day, and they get it in bottles that they bring to guarded collection points. That’s 50 liters a day, down from 87 liters a day. There is no water left over for that 4-minute shower (if they even have running water, which many do not). Those liters of water are being used as drinking and cooking water first and foremost, and then perhaps to wash cookware and persons.

The City of Cape Town has identified more than 50,000 consumers who are using more than 20,000 litres of water a month, and will install devices at the residences of high water consumers. Picture: Tracey Adams/ANA

Businesses will use chemical toilets and asks employees to bring their own water to work.

I wonder how that will play out. Will people be mugged en route and robbed of their personal supplies of potable water? That seems likely.

It’s the warm season there, but Cape Town has winters. The people there can’t just melt and use snowfall, however; the lowest temperature in winter there is 47 °F/8.5 °C.

I’m just trying to imagine what this is like. It’s anything but pleasant.

Water to poor townships, schools, hospitals, and the business district will not be shut off. At least, that’s the current plan. Plans can change.

Under discussion is the idea of storing water at military installations and having it handed out, because desperate hordes of humans tend to overwhelm water supplies without such measures.

People are unlikely to stay where they are if they don’t have enough water.

Those with motor vehicles will likely leave first, and poorer people will go on foot if they have to.

Where will they go? There are other cities in South Africa. There is also the countryside. Imagine almost 4 million people relocating rapidly.

If you have any trouble doing so, just recall what happened when millions of migrants walked into Europe last year and the year before.

This crisis will be repeated elsewhere in the world. Count on it.

Here are a few news articles about the unfolding crisis, from Zero Hedge, Global Citizen, Bloomberg Markets, Bloomberg, and Otago Daily Times, respectively:

Cape Town Prays as “Day Zero” Looms; Security Forces to Guard Water-Collection Points

Cape Town Is About to Run Out of Water

Water Crisis Threatens Cape Town Companies Facing Staff Chaos

‘Day Zero’ Looms as Cape Town Scrambles to Tackle Water Crisis

After Cape Town, more cities face water crisis

The City of Cape Town, South Africa has a website devoted to Zero Day:

Day Zero | 4 June 2018 | The day we may have to queue for water

The date of Zero Day has been adjusted a few times, making it earlier, earlier, and then later. But it’s still coming – er, looming. (It was May 11th when I wrote this. 9 days later, it’s June 4th.)

Wikipedia has an article devoted to this problem:

Cape Town water crisis

On it, a map showing 6 dams can be seen.

There are also desalination plants for this coastal city.

I checked to see how many humans currently exist on this entire planet, since that number keeps going up.

Worldometers | Current World Population

Worldometers | Countries in the world by population (2017)

I doubt that guards will be enough to manage huge numbers of desperate, parched, uncomfortable, and mood-compromised people.

As I write this, I am sitting comfortably in the United States, but I am also thinking about water supplies here.

The Nestlé corporation pays $200 a year to a town in Michigan to extract and bottle all the water that it can.

Tiny Michigan town in water fight with Nestle

That town is not alone in this problem.

My own town has an unwanted bottling company in it, one that was protested at great length after its clandestine deal was pushed through.

National Geographic did a story on the Ogallala Aquifer in July of 2016.

The data isn’t pretty. That aquifer is being drained to irrigate crops, and farmers are unable to continue operations. 60 Minutes did a story on that problem in 2014:

Depleting the water | Lesley Stahl reports on disturbing new evidence that our planet’s groundwater is being pumped out much faster than it can be replenished

What is needed is a population policy AND water management.

We don’t have any of the former nor enough of the latter.

Politicians are terrified of even suggesting that the liberty to reproduce as much as people wish to reproduce be revoked.

Not only that, but the logistics of getting enough birth control devices distributed to everyone of fertile age, and of delivering enough vasectomies and tubal ligations to stem the flow of human reproduction, requires an infrastructure that is not currently in place.

We need that infrastructure – decades ago.

The Earth’s ecosystems cannot support us all even now.

We are too many for the amount of potable water that currently exists, nor for potable water that is likely to exist anytime soon.

Never mind worrying about U.F.O.s – it’s I.F.O.s that we have to watch out for.

Orbital debris is relevant, it affects us, and it is once again in the news.

Orbital debris is junk in outer space.

Outer space and all things associated with it has always fascinated and excited me.

I know I’m not alone in that. Star Trek is certainly evidence of that, as are the works of Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Frank Herbert, and many others.

The ideas of Star Trek represent our species best hopes for the future, with life as it is now applied to that world, complete with the counterpart to the United Nations of New York City depicted in the United Federation of Planets in San Francisco – conveniently located in the same city as Starfleet Academy and Starfleet’s headquarters.

But what of human activity in space in reality?

When I was in law school, a paper called a baccalaureate essay was required. Essentially, it was a law thesis, and it had to be fairly brief, because lawyers are not encouraged to ramble on and on.

This thesis paper could be done outside of any formal course, or as the term paper for one, and a form would have to be filed with the registrar to make it count as such.

Reasoning that one would have to be crazy to do it as an extra project outside of any course, thus making extra work for oneself, I immediately starting casting about for a suitable course.

What would I like to write about, I asked myself?

I was at the University of Connecticut’s School of Law in Hartford, Connecticut, a top-tier law school in the insurance capital of the world.

I would be damned if I would write about insurance!

It just wasn’t of interest to me, though, ironically, in the blind write-on competition for a place on one of the school’s law journals, I got the insurance one. Sigh. I would have preferred the international one, but that was that. I made the best of it and became a Lead Articles Editor, which I enjoyed.

But back to this paper.

It had to be about something that I actually cared about, because if it weren’t, it wouldn’t be any good.

Some people can write good papers about topics that they don’t love – or at least like – and don’t care about. Not me.

It’s a lot of trouble to get accepted to any graduate school. Once there, one ought to make the most of it and enjoy the experience, not make oneself miserable.

After all, you’ll never be there again, with the chance to study whatever you want, and a thesis paper represents the ultimate, defining opportunity to do that.

The first year of law school is spent on a required curriculum, with the exception of a choice of administrative law courses. I chose environmental law.

That was where I met Professor Richard Parker, a very organized and effective lecturer. He was also a very nice guy. That helps.

Confrontational teaching was the last thing I wanted. I find it distracts from focusing on the subject matter, and that is worse than useless.

I wasted no time in approaching him with my question: would he oversee my thesis paper?

At first, he didn’t know anything about me, such as what year I was in, and asked in a disapproving tone if I had waited until my 3rd year to write that paper.

No, I replied, it was the start of my 2nd year and I wanted to get going on it right away.

Oh, he said, sounding like he approved of that, then I should take his seminar next semester on international environmental law, and do it as part of that course.

I did.

There were just 9 of us, sitting comfortably grouped around in a circle of tables with Professor Parker at the front of the small, upstairs classroom.

We had to present a proposal first, and I had no idea what that was supposed to look like, so I went to his office, took out my pen and notebook, and asked him what he wanted in it.

The answer was a page-long proposal laid out neatly in quick and easy-to-read sections, which he listed, summed up with the question.

I wrote it all down, thanked him, and left.

Off to the library and the computers.

There had to be a United Nations treaty that would encompass international, environmental, and outer space law and deal with toxic torts.

A tort is a civil wrong, for which one sues for money, and a toxic tort involves damage to the ecosystem.

There was such a treaty! It deals with orbital debris. Perfect!

Orbital debris over the Earth. Image via CTGN

Actually, there were several treaties about outer space, including one about the Moon and which countries may own which parts of the moonscape. It’s first come, first serve.

The United Nations has its Office for Outer Space Affairs in Geneva, Switzerland, complete with a website: http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/index.html

Excellent – I could get a high from a source in reality similar to that from watching Star Trek!

Back to the treaty that suited my quest for a paper topic:

It is called the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects, and it was promulgated in 1971.

Here is a a brief summary of the treaty:

Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects

The Liability Convention was considered and negotiated by the Legal subcommittee from 1963 to 1972. Agreement was reached in the General Assembly in 1971 ( resolution 2777 (XXVI)), and the Convention entered into force in September 1972. Elaborating on Article 7 of the Outer Space Treaty, the Liability Convention provides that a launching State shall be absolutely liable to pay compensation for damage caused by its space objects on the surface of the Earth or to aircraft, and liable for damage due to its faults in space. The Convention also provides for procedures for the settlement of claims for damages.

I wrote up the topic proposal as required, Professor Parker glanced over it, and approved it. What a relief! (A classmate who wanted to do a paper on sea turtles had had 3 rejections.)

This treaty, as it turned out, had actually been invoked once, in 1979, when a Soviet spy satellite crashed in northern Canada, spreading radioactive debris in the snow where endangered caribou range. The Soviets ended up having to pay $1 million and were not allowed to go there to clean up the mess themselves. U.S. and Canadian scientists had put on radiation suits and collected everything in lead boxes.

The paper I was to write ended up being 33 and a half pages long, and Parker gave it an “A-“. He wrote me a note that he liked these papers to have more law than facts, but qualified that comment with the observation that mine couldn’t have that, because the treaty hadn’t been invoked more than once. That was rather amusing – there was nothing I could do about that.

I had a wonderful time with this project, and I still have the thesis paper and materials I printed out to write it. I doubt I will ever throw them away.

This is the title of the paper: International Toxic Torts Caused by I.F.O.s (Identified Flying Objects).

The task before me was to explain how the treaty worked, using a hypothetical situation. In other words, I was to write some fiction and apply the law to it. Fun!

Here is the fictitious scenario that I wrote:

A Carnival Cruise ship is out on the Caribbean Sea, and it is full of American tourists.

Meanwhile, Kuwait wanted a satellite put into orbit in order to give its cell phones and televisions better reception and reach.

Accordingly, it hired the French to build one and launch it into orbit, which they attempted to do via the European Space Agency (ESA) from their launch point in Kourou, French Guiana.

(At this point in my presentation to the class, I mentioned that it is better to have launch points near water, but that the Russians and Chinese have them inland. The Indians and Japanese, and the Europeans and Americans, put them near water. This means that the Japanese can only launch for 4 months out of the year, because they have an 8-month fishing season. They can’t risk accidents landing on people out in boats…)

Unfortunately, my scenario continued, the launch was unsuccessful. The rocket blew up mid-way into orbit and fell back to Earth, in the Caribbean Sea…right onto that Carnival Cruise ship.

What a mess. Lots of deaths, and of course destruction of property.

Now what?

Enter the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects.

(Notice that I had chosen defendants with sufficient funds to leave some hope of collecting on this legal action.)

An arbitration panel would have to be assembled, and it would contain jurists from nations that were members of the United Nations but it would not include any from the nations involved in this dispute.

The United States would be suing on behalf of the families of the victims of this disaster and on behalf of the Carnival Cruise corporation.

France and Kuwait would be on the hook for whatever damages the panel awarded.

The End.

As I explained everything I had learned, I heard one guy in the class say in a stage whisper, “Star Wars, science fiction, Star Trek.”

That earned him a funny look from Professor Parker.

We were presenting 3 papers each week, so all 9 of us were done in 3 weeks (one class meeting per week).

The next week, it was the stage whisperer’s turn, and he was nervous. Before he got up to speak, he said something to the professor about “this topic you assigned me.”

Really?! I thought to myself – you’re laughing at me yet you weren’t fascinated enough on your own about any topic to choose one yourself?! Hah.

At my graduation, Professor Parker told my family that I had convinced him that outer space was a part of the ecosystem and a part of international environmental law.

How had I done that?

The presentation and the paper had talked about the Kosmos-954 accident, and about what satellites are made of and powered by, which is spent uranium and plutonium.

Cosmos-954 Specifications. Wikipedia

Those things have half-lives of 4,000 to 5,000 years, and we know that those elements are part of highly toxic nuclear weapons. We don’t want that stuff falling on us!

At the time I was writing that paper, which was in 1998, there were roughly 600 human-made objects in orbit around the Earth.

These included satellites for communications, spying, and education and exploration.

The famous Hubble Telescope and the International Space Station, then still under construction, occupy higher orbits than the rest, partly to get a better view of the galaxy and beyond, and partly to avoid getting impacted by all that other stuff.

NASA uses a space sensing network to look for safe launch windows between all that stuff, including naturally-occurring orbital debris such as tiny rocks that move at the speed of a .22-calibur bullet (imagine that ripping through an astronaut’s space suit!), and such synthetic debris as a lost toothbrush and a nut-and-bolt that was dropped on a spacewalk.

There are, therefore, obviously many things in orbit that are not under anyone’s control and that present a danger to satellites.

Today, there are far more.

So, to review: the objects in orbit can crash into each other and cause damage to each other, and those same objects can malfunction and spiral back to Earth, spreading radiation world-wide and falling on human settlements and valuable ecosystems.

Space agencies around the globe monitor this problem constantly.

Perhaps you have seen the commercial for the U.S. Air Force in which a collision is averted with a fast re-tasking of a satellite to avoid a rogue space object.

There are plans to “vacuum” this debris from space: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZRVI5zH7Z8

Many nations have people working on this:

Japanese scientists create a spatial trash collector

Finding ways to navigate the 170 million pieces of “space junk”

But we’re not safe yet.

Remember the jokes back in 2007 and 2008 when a U.S. satellite was spiraling into the Earth, crossing over Canada from Vancouver and heading east?

David Letterman made one about how Vice President Dick Cheney was locked and loaded, ready to shoot it down.

The real solution was the U.S. Navy ships can be outfitted with equipment to shoot down rogue satellites, and that was what was done.

A formal warning was issued:

U.S. issues notice on downing of satellite

People looked for it from the ground:

See the Falling Spy Satellite

Got it on the second try:

Navy Missile Hits Spy Satellite

There was much discussion over whether or not that effort was worth the financial cost involved, though it was done to make absolutely sure that our spy technology was kept secure:

A Shot Heard ‘Round the World

I said that orbital debris was in the news again, and it is.

Right now, the Chinese have a 9-ton space station with no one on it, and that object will crash to Earth soon. The time cited as “soon” remains undefined.

Guessing Game: When Will China’s Space Lab Fall to Earth?

This announcement comes with a public safety warning.

“Potentially, there may be a highly toxic and corrosive substance called hydrazine on board the spacecraft that could survive re-entry,” [the Aerospace Corp.’s Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies] CORDS researchers wrote on the organization’s Tiangong-1 re-entry page. “For your safety, do not touch any debris you may find on the ground nor inhale vapors it may emit.”

I wonder how much effort is being put into making sure that as many people as possible notice this warning, however.

I decided to add my own effort to the mix by writing this blog post.

What is hydrazine?

Hydrazine is a colorless, highly flammable and toxic liquid that smells like ammonia. It is used in rocket fuels and it used to be used in air bags in motor vehicles.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

Symptoms of acute (short-term) exposure to high levels of hydrazine may include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, dizziness, headache, nausea, pulmonary edema, seizures, coma in humans. Acute exposure can also damage the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. The liquid is corrosive and may produce dermatitis from skin contact in humans and animals. Effects to the lungs, liver, spleen, and thyroid have been reported in animals chronically exposed to hydrazine via inhalation. Increased incidences of lung, nasal cavity, and liver tumors have been observed in rodents exposed to hydrazine.

At least one human is known to have died after 6 months of sublethal exposure to hydrazine hydrate. The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has prepared a Skin Notation Profile evaluating and summarizing the literature regarding the hazard potential of hydrazine, and has developed criteria for a recommended standard for occupational exposure.

It’s nice that we have a voluminous amount of data saved up by the E.P.A. If we’re lucky, Trump won’t have it deleted by the corporate Farmers he has put in charge of it, such as Scott Pruitt.

And where is this satellite likely to fall? As in, on whom, and on whose ecosystem?

The answer is frustratingly vague: anywhere between the 43rd parallels.

43rd Parallels North and South. Images via Wikipedia.

That’s a lot of geographical area to worry about.

Stay safe, and don’t touch any fallen space junk.

A Show for Those of Us on the Autism Spectrum Rather Than for the Majority

Jim Parsons narrates the spinoff of The Big Bang Theory in Young Sheldon, playing, as usual, the adult version of the character. We never see him, and we are not meant to. That works, and I have been enjoying the show.

When I like a show, I do what I can to boost its ratings and thus extend its life on the air. This meant visiting the Internet Movie Data Base – Young Sheldon page and giving each episode a high rating, plus an overall one on the show’s page itself.

This evening, the show had a mini-marathon run of a few episodes that were broadcast this past autumn, so I had fun watching them.

Then I noticed the overall rating for the show: 6.6 out of 10.

That led to a look at the reviews.

There are many positive ones from people who love the show. I didn’t spend much time on those other than to click the “Yes” button.

“Yes” – those reviews are helpful to me, because they boost the show’s chances of continuing, and that is an outcome I want.

The negative reviews were the ones I spent time on, because I wanted to get a sense of why people were complaining.

That worked, of course, and I fought back by clicking on the “Report” option and choosing “Inappropriate” and “Spoiler Information”.

Then I clicked the “No” button for good measure.

I wish there had been a way to write a complaint about the complaints, but there wasn’t, and there won’t be (probably overkill anyway!).

Instead, I wrote my own review, addressing the objections.


This is a show for Aspies, and that’s a good thing. It is what it promises, and it is great fun.

I love this show. It focuses on a character who ought to be focused on: an Aspie genius who will always stand out and never fit into the crowd. His mother is a great, supportive parent, and the show has demonstrated that this kid loves and appreciates his parents. They know what he is, and he knows what they are.

I love that Sheldon comes across as annoying to “most” people and that the show emphasizes that he does not like what “most” people like, and that he dislikes what “most” people like. That is really how it is for people on the autism spectrum, and this show tells that as it is to the world.

The world, however, is full of selfish neurotypicals (those who fit into the category of “most” people) who are being shown that there are other points of view than their own, and that those points of view count.

This show is being treated much the way that the original Star Trek series was treated: with disdain and derision, and complaints that it is more cerebral than entertaining. I am disgusted but not surprised.

The mother should NOT be the central character. She is meant to be what she is: a supporting one.

Laurie Metcalf should NOT be the narrator. We on the autism spectrum neither need nor want yet another neurotypical to speak for us. We don’t need a narration by the mother to understand how she views the situation. That’s not a new concept. It’s an old and tired one.

This show is being presented properly, with the adult Sheldon’s voice as the narrator. We are seeing his point of view represented and emphasized. We are well aware of how we seem, because “most” people are only too happy to tell us. What is funny and satisfying about watching this show is the comeuppance it offers to the smug attitude of the majority.

This show does a great service to society by pointing out what Aspie geniuses are like, that they exist, and teaching others about all this. The scientists, inventors, professors, economists, writers, and other innovators of the world are always going to exist, and it is their unfettered quirks that bring out and maximize those innovations.

That is why I love this show.


That’s it, and it’s been successfully submitted.

I was careful not to include any spoilers, such as the sincere though succinct moment in which Sheldon thanks his football coach dad for getting angry that the NASA scientist blew his calls off for weeks, thus causing him to get an ulcer, and therefore driving the family to NASA in Houston and demanding that the guy meet with Sheldon and hear him out about his calculations for landing reusable spacecraft.

The adult narration by Jim Parsons has Sheldon wishing he had told his dad that their trip to Cape Canaveral to see a space shuttle launch, rained out though it was, was the best trip he ever went on, demonstrates that he loved and appreciated his dad.

It also shows how an autistic child is as human as a neurotypical one in that Sheldon was unable to fully express every E.Q (Emotional Quotient) impulse during childhood. A human being cannot have both high I.Q. and high E.Q. That is the stuff of gods and goddesses, not of humans, after all. Yet the kid gives his dad a sincere thank-you right after his father makes a dismissive big-shot pay attention to his son. He doesn’t treat his son as annoying, frivolous, or a waste of time.

The show may be presented as a sitcom, but it comes across as a serious one rather than as a comedy, and that’s okay.

It is hilarious in a way that “most” people cannot appreciate, in part because they don’t like having a mirror held up to themselves.

The joke is on them: “most” people can be (but are not always) ordinary, cannot appreciate a beautiful mind, do not possess a sense of intellectual curiosity or adventurousness, and care more for fitting in and being patted on the back for doing so than anything else.

That seems to be what grates on the negative commenters.

That is what makes the show a comedy, and it is a comedy to those of us who are amused to see that joke being, for a nice change, on “most” instead of on the “few”. The few should have the spotlight and our point of view shown, too.

The “most” people group should not be the only ones who get shows, attention, and accolades in fiction.

These negative comments smack of resentment that the “few” have gotten some of that.

The positive commenters are people on the autism spectrum who are tired of seeing what they love being marginalized and unappreciated.

I am one of them.

Journalists Are Delighted to Disgust Bigots

Journalists are delighted when bigots are disgusted that they can present anything they wish to present.

They live to do that.

It is their mission in life.

It is their raison d’être.

Okay, you get the idea. I fun iterating it several ways.

Authoritarian bigots who disdain in-depth reporting backed up by sound research can just be unhappy and stuff it, because they disdain democracy.

Journalists having full creative and research control over their reporting is what makes democracy great.

Enough of this nationalistic nonsense!

Patriotism is not about blindly making one’s own nation supreme on the planet, right or wrong.

That is the definition of an empire.

We are not the citizens of Oceania, the police surveillance state of George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, no matter how happy that would make Donald J. Trump, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Sebastian Gorka, or any other clown car Farmer currently taking up space in our non-government.

Patriotism is about a balance between the good of the majority of the people who are citizens of a nation and that of the rest. It is NOT about feeling and proceeding as if the enjoying of civil rights by a group other than one’s own somehow infringes upon that individual.

Such selfishness sees itself as persecuted and at war with other citizens, people who would have no quarrel with the selfish one(s) except for that show of insecurity.

The emotional insecurity of bigots and the greed of bankster hedge fundster corporatist Farmers is not and should not be the problem of anyone else.

The Wizard of Fraud has made himself obvious to us all by now.

Trump cares only for himself and his wounded ego, feeling everlastingly bitter over a roast by Obama that he ought to have gotten over long ago.

Instead, he is working hard to undo everything Obama did, no matter how much good he unravels…and it was a lot of good.

Trump and the dismantling of Obama’s legacy

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-dismantling-obamas-legacy-140214491.html

We’re watching a parade of bad.

We have gone from having lawyers, scientists, physicians, nuclear physicists, engineers, and intellectuals running our government to banksters, hedge fundsters, and corporatists running it.

We went from what was best for our country to what is worst.

All this from gerrymandering, psy-ops, and a hacking of our democracy – from cheating.

This insanity shows itself when the angry ones who won’t stop supporting Trump – who haven’t yet lost their healthcare access – claim to be pleased with him.

How much damage to their own lives will it take before they wake up?

Enough of this phony patriotism, and enough already of confusing it with the real thing!

Military service is not a license to bigotry. Military service does not confer a license to be a bigot – not on a veteran, and not on an active member of any branch of the military.

I got so disgusted by the behavior and attitude of one who has served in the military that I actually posted that statement in a political chat group and asked for some discussion of it.

This is a sampling of what people said:

“Military personnel are a cross section of society at large. Past service does not change a person’s inner self. Bigots remain bigots while those with a broader vision retain that basic humanity. I served 65-69 and the number of bigots was small, while the rest of us just got along and did our job together.”

“Once a person has been proven to be a bigot, they will always be one. “A tiger does not change its stripes.” I grew up dealing with such people in a place where it happened a lot. (1968 saw a big change in the landscape – both physically and mentally – in my native city.)”

“I think people can change and have their minds opened. It doesn’t happen enough and it usually takes a special circumstance (typically very personal, like you actually get to know and like someone different than you).”

“I don’t think anyone would argue that serving in the military gives you a pass to be a bigot. Bigots would say they can be a bigot regardless, because they see nothing wrong with it, service or no service.”

“Serving in the military confers no rights (a) to feel superior to other Americans, or (b) to be a bigot or justify bigoted behavior. My 2 cents.”

“We must fight prejudice and bigotry no matter where it lies or who the speaker is. It is immoral not to speak out against a veteran or against our president when either of them spew bigoted speech. As the position of president gives no right to display and even promote bigotry, we should have no tolerance for the same behavior in a veteran. It’s sad that veterans could live and work alongside of such a diverse group of people and still cling to hateful intolerant views and speech. Call them out.”

“First the military has in many cases been at the forefront of change. The services became integrated under Truman the service-stopped segregation way before the rest of the nation. The military I found is where skills and brotherhood came first. Ask any Marine if he is white or a black Marine and his answer is he is a Marine. What the military does instill is a bond to each other, no man left behind, it also instills a leadership concept that becomes hard to stop when you move from military to civilian life. In an aircraft the pilot in the left seat is in command even if he is a 2nd Lieutenant and a four star general is in the right seat. In this case the 4-star takes orders from the very young Lieutenant. The military was first the establish most of our public higher education schools from the academies to land grant colleges. Many technology advances are directly related to the military. People seem to forget all of this. Even inventions that are not related to instruments of war.”

All comments were supportive and thoughtful, of course – and some had been in the military.

A couple of years ago, I met a guy at a social event who was in the Air Force. I don’t remember his exact job, but it had something to do with satellites, like in the Air Force commercial where the people in it are moving them out of the way of orbital debris. (I love that ad – it’s like my law thesis subject matter all over again, with any reason to invoke the treaty I studied averted.)

This guy told me that most people in the military were Republicans. I could believe that; my great-uncle, a three-star Air Force general and World War II flying ace, was one.

But “most” does not mean all.

What I would like to find from military people is a statement that they are fighting to preserve our ability to think and say what we want, not what those in the military want us to think and say.

That’s freedom and democracy.

We should not be expected and required to be religious – especially in a nation that was founded with the concept of a separation of religion and state.

The “under God” bit of the pledge to the flag was added in 1954 during the McCarthy political witch-hunting era. It is a relic of an assault on our democracy that ought to have been deleted long ago, as it conflicts with the requirement for a separation of religion and state.

I always say the pledge of allegiance without the “under God” bit. No goddess…I’m an atheist…I’m not saying that! No United States citizen can be legally required to say it if they don’t believe in it. (See the U.S. Constitution, 1st Amendment.)

There should be no prayers with government officials.

Just work.

Thoughts and prayers do nothing to help disaster victims.

Deeds are what counts.

Throwing paper towels at them is an insult.

But that’s what a bigot is like.

Trump looked like a buffoon and alternately an Alzheimer’s patient as he threw rolls of paper towels to people in Puerto Rico.

He doesn’t want to live up to his responsibility to most of the citizens he agreed to work for.

He only wants to do that for the few that he likes.

That is the essence of a dictator, and of someone who is unfit to serve in the office he is currently taking up space in.

Last year, as I was watching movies on television (a favorite pastime of mine), one caught my attention: Junebug.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junebug_(film)

Junebug mostly takes place in the present, in North Carolina. Though it was surely Trump country, there were no political signs up in the suburban neighborhoods there, but that was not the point. The point of this movie was to hold a mirror up to that part of America. To do this, a pair of foreign actors who often work together were hired to play the lead roles.

The couple was from Chicago, and recently married. The wife came with her husband to North Carolina to strike a deal with a local artist and to meet the in-laws. To further emphasis just how different she was from her in-laws, the writers made her a British woman (likely a naturalized citizen, but with an Anglican upbringing) and a political liberal. This cultural difference served to highlight the rural, religious, right-leaning bent of the people she met in North Carolina. Her husband was a quiet, college-educated guy who didn’t talk about his political leanings.

The new wife saw that urban sophistication was not merely out of place there, but frowned upon.

Her brother-in-law worked at Replacements Limited as a packager while pursuing his G.E.D.

Replacements Limited is a real business, founded and run by a gay man. It is a one-of-a-kind enterprise; it supplies people with discontinued but valuable and elegant dishes with replacements if one breaks. My family has ordered from it, and been very satisfied.

That business was in the news a couple of years ago for a stupid reason: bigots found out that the owner is gay and decided to boycott it. I found this both obnoxious and hilarious. ‘Good luck getting replacements when your dishes break,’ I thought, recalling my online search for dishes when that gravy boat broke. I only found this company. I hope the bigots can’t find what they want elsewhere. I’m just vindictive like that when people are narrow-minded or mean. I take the side of the person or people who were on the receiving end of bullying.

A Company’s Stand for Gay Marriage, and Its Cost

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/26/business/replacements-limiteds-stand-for-gay-marriage-draws-repercussions.html

The owner of Replacements Limited was treated to a barrage of hate mail for using his profits to fight a bill in North Carolina that would make gay marriage illegal. Those are HIS profits to do with as he pleases. He was also accused of adopting children just so that he could molest them. People are crazy! He just wanted to be a parent, and would have married his boyfriend if he could have done so.

It is worth noting that, no matter where one looks, the population includes some of everything: liberals, bigots, gays, heterosexuals, Aspies, neurotypicals, and so on. This movie showed Trump country – an area where Trump would find many voters when he ran for President over a decade after it was made – yet the brother-in-law worked at a gay-owned company there.

But back to the movie: the younger brother’s wife was pregnant, and convinced that a baby would save their marriage. She was also convinced that eating enough to nourish herself and the fetus would make her too fat and also ruin their marriage…which made for an outcome to her pregnancy that she did not desire.

The local preacher induced a moment that was both awkward and revealing when he asked the Chicago-transplant husband to open the Bible to a random page and sing whatever was on that page. He had a lovely voice, but it was incongruous to see and hear an educated man do this, and it smacked of pleasing his community rather than sincere belief – to avoid making waves during a visit home. The husband only did this because he was asked to do it. The new British Chicagoan wife turned and stared, shocked, yet she made sure to maintain a polite, neutral-enough facial expression.

This was what she had married into.

She liked her new parents-in-law, even though they did not understand snarky or bawdy humor. Her father-in-law quickly understood her and did not condemn her for laughing at his verbal lapse over a lost screwdriver that she had found under the crib (“I thought I did some screwing in here”), realizing that she meant no malice by it. He simply could not share in the joke, but that was all.

She saw that the people of Trump country were not – none that she met – murderous, yet they said some terrible, bigoted things. The artist she signed a contract with chose her over the New York competitor simply to avoid dealing with a Jew. He didn’t even know Jews! He had met one – ONE – and denied him a deal on that count. She was shocked again, but wisely didn’t get into any fights. She already stood out as different. The North Carolina residents could see that she was a liberal, a city-slicker, a businesswoman, and not like them. But she was the out-of-town son’s wife, so she was family, and that was all there was to that.

The characters wisely refrained from straying from that acknowledgement. Our nation is just that divided by education, politics, rural versus urban culture, and more – region by region. Everyone in this movie was white, yet these differences and loomed large in the plot nonetheless. (Movies can only cover so much in one story, but this polite silence would have broken more than just when the art deal was struck had characters of other racial and cultural backgrounds than British been in the mix.)

Her husband seemed happy to have moved away from this, evidenced by his comment at the end as they drove back toward Chicago: “I’m so glad we’re out of there.”

I watched them go down the highway and was glad for them too.

It may be terribly elitist of me to value science, law, and research over emotion and religion, but I shall continue to do so just the same.

I shall continue to seek out people from cultures other than my own, learn about them, try their food (if it doesn’t include organs, beef, pork, cabbage – we all have our quirks!), and get to know and appreciate them as people while showing them the same about myself and my own culture and cuisine.

That is the kind of America that we ought to value.

It will prepare us well to help others, Americans or not, and to treat them well.

I don’t want to look back at my life and feel any shame about how I interacted with others.

I want to be glad that I helped when I could, that I voted not only for myself but for the good of the future of our country, thinking of its ecosystems, its laws, and its democracy.

Also, the test of any culture and legal system is how it treats women.

Flunk that and I’m done – I won’t hold it in high esteem.

Another test is in whether or not we have an authoritarian with a short attention span or a democratic intellectual for a leader. Come to think of it, we only have a leader in the latter.

We don’t have a leader now.

We have a squatter in our executive mansion – one with a weak ego and a short attention span.

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